Bill Harrison - Leaders Are Not Superheroes


Posted: Thursday, August 5, 2021
By: Gillespie Electric, Inc.
Categories: Construction News

Leaders being some kind of superhero is a myth. There are basically three theories of leadership:

  1. Trait theory – there are born leaders
  2. Crisis theory – some folks just step up
  3. The Transformational theory – people can learn leadership skills

The Transformational theory is the most popular now, but I believe in a combination of that and the Crisis theory.

Let’s look at an example: Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded on September 5, 1980 by Candace Lightner after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver. What started at a kitchen table became a national organization with the efforts of one person.

Was she a born leader? Nothing would indicate that? Did a crisis get her started? Probably. Did she develop her leadership skills along the way? Most likely.

The same process takes place in business every day. Leaders come and go as the situation arises and then go back to their everyday jobs in time.

The Good News

There is some good news on leadership. A leader can come from anywhere, at any time, when needed. It happens every day somewhere in the business world.

But there is a catch; a big one. Are others permitting these leaders to emerge and take the lead? To many folks at the top believe they must be the superhero and have all the solutions to everything. They refuse to let anyone take the lead on anything. This is impossible, regardless of how long you have been in the trade or profession.

Example: When I first got to Southeast Asia my leaders were my NCO’s. Some had been in country twice before. What did I know? After a year I began to take some of the reins back, and when I left after 3.5 years, I was the leader of the unit.

Permit folks with more experience, or lots of enthusiasm, to lead some aspects of the work. If you are a bit concerned with this, have them report to you daily, better weekly, or even monthly depending on the length of the task.

Certainly, choose your leaders wisely. The load mouth will usually not make the best leader. Give them the freedom to soar and it will only make you look good. Suppress them and you will be slogging through muck.

The Coach always appreciates feedback.

Bill Harrison

  • The Phoenix Leadership Institute, LLC
  • 6200 Settlers Trail Place
  • Gainesville, VA 20155
  • Tel: 703-909-8230
  • e-mail:

Tagged:Teamwork, Workforce Development

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