Becoming the Heroic Leader you Want to Be
“Until I went to the dictionary, I didn’t know what ‘ship’ in ‘leadership’ meant: it means capacity. Leadership is the capacity to lead,” says Author and Leadership Expert John D. Hanson.
Hanson suggests that we must drive our development with new knowledge, experience, mentors, and coaches to close the gap between what we know and what we don’t know.
Check out my in-depth discussion with John D. Hanson
According to James K. Harter, Ph.D., Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management, at least 75 percent of the reasons for costly voluntary resignations boil down to things managers have control over and can influence.
Hanson uses the metaphor of travel agents and tour guides to describe three types of leaders: the Travel Agent, the Regular Tour Guide and the Passionate Tour Guide.
The Travel Agent does the job of booking a great trip for you. The engineer your trip to the smallest detail but won’t go with you on the trip. He will say, “Let me know how it goes when you get back. Send me a postcard.”
That’s the kind of leader that’s only by title. They don’t know you personally and are never around. They don’t even aspire to build a relationship with you.
The Regular Tour Guide, on the other hand, does his job of taking you on tour. He’ll lead you to and point out the points of interest. The Regular Tour Guide does his job but lacks a vital component to a superb trip – passion. The Regular Tour Guide does his job. His eyes don’t light up–it’s like he’s done this a thousand times–sounding like a script he has delivered over and over again.
The Passionate Tour Guide, by comparison, is a consummate professional who loves what he does. He not only takes you on the trip but wants to make sure you get the most out of it. Even though he is responsible for upwards of 20 people, he seems to be in tune with the group’s needs and objectives. He makes sure he connects with everyone.
Taken within the context of leadership, a leader who takes on the characteristics of the Passionate Tour Guide will not only have success in creating a great work culture, they will have the most engaged workers along for the ride.
Hanson reiterates that leadership… Heroic Leadership is not a job; it is a choice. Choosing to lead has nothing to do with titles or standing. Leadership is how one engages others with shared passion and vision.
Hanson suggests that there are six core elements to becoming a heroic leader:
1. Purpose, Excellence and Empowerment
To be a heroic leader is to have a sense of a higher purpose and be driven by excellence for a goal more significant than yourself.
Heroic leadership is seeing beyond your strengths and focusing on uplifting and supporting your teams’ abilities, tapping in on their strengths to accomplish goals.
Hanson suggests that delegating and empowering teams to excel with excellence is akin to teaching them how to fish, rather than just giving them the fish.
Authenticity is the new currency in building trust. A genuine, self-aware and transparent leader evokes loyalty and trust from his people.
According to Hanson, “It’s really about identifying who you are as a person. And then adding all the professional tools to engage better… you’ll always accomplish more. Your team will always accomplish more if you do that.”
“If you can learn how to empathize rather than sympathize, you will be remarkably effective as a leader. You’ll be able to put yourself in someone else’s world no matter what their personality, no matter what their roles are,” Hanson explains.
An empathetic leader seeks to understand first. They put themselves in a position to understand the needs and condition of their team first and then offers support that helps bring out the best in them.
I’ve always loved the adage, “There are two types of people in the world. The ones that get up in the morning and say, “Oh God! Morning!” and those that get up in the morning and say, “Good morning God!”
As much as I am not religious, I love the sentiment of the difference. The former makes a chore out of the day. It essentially says, ‘I have to do this, I have to do that.’ The latter is more like a child on Christmas day. It’s like saying, ‘I get to do this, I get to do that.
“Gratitude is huge. It’s a great foundation for leaders who can seem to rise above it all no matter what’s being thrown at them,” Hanson says.
(For more about the power of gratitude, check out my LinkedIn article here)
5. Authentic Smile
Many leaders fail to realize how a truly authentic smile can do wonders for their team.
A proverb says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Your authentic smile reflects how you feel and deal with others.
Human beings can distinguish between a pasted-on smile and a genuine and authentic smile. “If your team experiences this authentic kind of smile, they can feel that you care about being around them,” says Hanson.
A heroic leader’s priority is to absorb the team’s stress, not be the source of it.
6. To under-promise and over-deliver
One of the biggest mistakes any leader can make is to not deliver on their promises. No matter how minor, unfulfilled promises lead to distrust and can be demoralizing for one’s staff.
But by under-promising and over-delivering internally to your team, you make yourself a reliable leader and a trusted professional.
Hanson suggests that if your staff needs a report by Wednesday afternoon, and you know you can get it done by Tuesday, make a promise that you can send it by Wednesday morning.
If you must compromise on deliverables, having an open discussion with your team will clarify expectations, obstacles and conditions.
Transparency seems to be the catchphrase in leadership today. People expect their leaders to set aside their personal agendas and motivations to benefit the group’s goals and objectives. As a heroic leader, the six core elements act like the superhero’s cape to deliver on being an upfront and open leader.
A new breed of empathetic and highly engaged leaders is emerging. We no longer rule from the roost but work through delegation and collaboration with others.
“The goal of many leaders is to get people to think more highly of the leader. The goal of a great leader is to help people to think more highly of themselves,” says seminary professor J. Carla Northcutt.
About John Hanson
In demanding industries like the Military, Ministry, Retail, Finance, Healthcare, Industrial Automation, Manufacturing and Non-profit, John D. Hanson has established himself as an engaged leader, earning promotions and management opportunities across these industries. The ability to work well with others—senior leadership, managerial peers, vendors and direct reports—has been a constant theme throughout his career.
Within 90 days of hire for a Fortune 100 company, John was chosen to train onboarding team members due to team-leading performance in quality, service and accuracy.
While working full-time for a Fortune 100 company and serving on reserve military duty, John earned two simultaneous bachelor’s degrees from Union Institute & University, graduating with a 4.0 GPA in both degrees in just 2 years.
Following years of research, his book, “WOW Your Customers! 7 Ways to World-Class Service” was published in 2018, with copies selling worldwide. John has had the privilege of interviewing leaders on every continent, as well as addressing global summits, in-person conferences and virtual events as a keynote speaker. He has been a repeat guest on the Mr. Biz B2B Radio podcast, a nationally-broadcast show, as well as appearances on podcasts and panels around the world. His live, weekly radio show, The Heroic Experience, is currently in production, scheduled to launch in July of 2021.
John considers it an honor to have served in a senior leadership position for the Ohio Army National Guard. His 8-year tour included a deployment to Iraq in 2010, his commitment complete in 2016.
If you want to become the Heroic Leader your team needs and accomplish more as a team, allow us a portion of your time to be connected:
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About the Author:
Marc Haine is a Service Expert and a Master of Experience. He is a sought-after speaker and trainer working with businesses that need to attract and engage their best customers. Driven by his passion for creating experiences that rock, Marc has worked with retail, casinos, hotels, associations and municipalities to help them design jaw-dropping experiences that get them noticed.
Marc knows what it takes for businesses to exceed experience expectations–The first step, each day, as you open your doors to the public, have you and your staff yell, “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
Marc is one of the world’s foremost authorities on customer journey experience touchpoints and is the author of LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Business Operational Excellence through the Lens of Live Theatre (Check out the new way of looking at your business HERE).
Marc is offering a free 30-minute brainstorming session with you and your team. Click Here to book a time that works for you on his online calendar