How does it feel to be a superhero? Maybe you can leap tall buildings at a single bound or be more powerful than a locomotive? Maybe you are a caped crusader against crime?

Or maybe you have the ability to shoot straight (be straightforward with people) and cut to the chase? Or you could be someone who is excellent at creating order out of chaos? You also could be a person who has never met a stranger -- developing instant connections and friendships.

I believe each of us has superpowers. Although Superman single-handedly saved Metropolis from falling into the hands of dangerous criminals and aliens from other planets, most superheroes are everyday people doing extraordinary things using their own super strengths.

Some superheroes are born with those superpowers and some get them as they grow up. Either way, the challenge is recognizing the power and then determining how to "do good" with it.

Larry Leader

Larry Leader was a vice president of operations for a manufacturing company. His role was to lead the four manufacturing teams to deliver high quality and profitable products in a consistent manner to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Larry was an unconventional idea generator and was never satisfied with the status quo. His superpower was his ability to forcefully articulate his ideas in an inspiring manner.

Although this superpower allowed him to be like Superman and "be faster than a speeding bullet" when it came to solving operational issues, the use of that superpower sometimes had a negative impact. Sometimes it meant Larry didn't listen because he was formulating his response to an opposing view. Sometimes Larry would dominate a debate causing others not to voice important differences with Larry's view.

Do No Harm

Maybe you or someone close to you may have had to put a life into a doctor's hands. We expect doctors to do no harm. The same goes for superheroes like you. The following are some suggestions for you to do no harm:

• Don't overuse your superpower, especially when a superpower is not needed. Superman just needs to capture the criminals so the police can take them into custody. Although he has the strength to break all their bones, that would be an unnecessary overuse of his superpower.

• Be selective about where you use your superpowers. Superman can't fight all crime. His superpower is best used for those crimes committed by super-villains who the police are not equipped to capture. Superheroes like Larry Leader should utilize Stephen Covey's matrix (from his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) for prioritizing their focus on the Important and Urgent as well as the Important and Not Urgent.

Developing Your Superpowers

Organizations often call me because one of their key leaders, who has tremendous potential, needs some coaching. People in the organization are getting frustrated with the individual even if they have some exceptional "powers." While I am coaching the individual, it is pretty common to find that their weaknesses, as perceived by others, are often just superpowers that are overused or not controlled.

I have been using the Birkman Method personality profile for more than 25 years. It not only helps people take advantage of their superpowers but also understand what triggers them to overuse that power.

Example of a Superpower According to a Birkman Method Profile

Perry Partner is a partner in a CPA firm. He has a superpower of straightforward, logical communication as described by two of the nine Birkman personality components:

Esteem - Perry is on one end of the personality continuum of being a straightforward communicator vs. the opposite who would be more diplomatic and tactful. Perry says what's on his mind without considering how it will be perceived by the other person.

Empathy -- Perry is very logical and objective when relating to emotions. It would be common for Perry to bring rationality to an emotionally charged situation by asking questions such as "Who caused this? When did it happen? Where were you?" -- so he can help the person fix the issue that is causing the emotion. The opposite of Perry would a more sympathetic listener, someone who just shows they care.

Because of his superpower, Perry's strength is to help people deal with emotional situations in a rational manner by seeing the logic/facts rather than getting lost in the emotional hurt. Unfortunately, a focus on the facts in a straightforward manner, especially when overused, can come across like Perry doesn't care. Not true. Perry cares a lot. He just cares through logic.

His wife once told him after having Perry's Birkman explained to her, "Now I know why you are the way you are. God made you that way and you can't help it."

Perry's superpower is very valuable as a leadership skill. He just has to be careful not to overuse it.

* *

I have coached enough people over the years to know and believe that everyone has the potential to "leap tall buildings at a single bound." You need to be in the right place, in the right role and most importantly, to know what your superpowers are and how best to use them.

Mike Goodfriend is a Teamwork Engineer, Leadership Coach, and Meeting Facilitator. Since 1989, Goodfriend & Associates has been helping leaders and leadership teams increase their strategic advantage through achieving higher levels of competitive advantage, teamwork/alignment, leadership competency and excellence/customer satisfaction. Mike Goodfriend can be reached at 713-789-6840 or via email at

© Goodfriend & Associates, Inc., 2016


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