Who Will Be Our New Heroes?

Who are your heroes?

How did they pop up on your radar? What did they do?

Where did they come from? Where are they now?

Our 2010 personification of heroes came up in a lively conversation over dinner recently. A friend of mine kicked it off, bemoaning the reputation of both Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980) as less than glorious. There were six of us dining, all with children who are Millenials (those born between 1981 and 1999).

As he put it, “Ask us, and we’re likely to say that our parents are among our heroes. We mention them first, because we admire them, and then we think of others. I really wonder if our own children will mention us at all!”

My fear, one I’ve had since Managing with Aloha was in its roughest, first-draft form, has been that the reputation of managers and bosses is even worse. What child will answer “a manager” or “a boss” when asked what they want to be when they grow up? Managers and bosses aren’t the first who come to mind when we think of heroic acts and achievements.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” —Christopher Reeve, who most of us knew as Superman

Heroes inspire us. They give us inspiration in abundance because they personify a picture of who we can be, and what we can achieve. Most of our heroes are just like us, with a little something more. They’re human, and because they are, they inspire possibility we feel is reachable.

Sure, it’s fun to think about Superman, some other movie hero, or an Olympian athlete with extraordinary talent in some sport, but I do think my dinner companion is right about how parents have traditionally had an edge. We want them to be our heroes because they are so much like us. It brings possibility closer, and places it in our own two hands.

Recently I’ve asked you to think about new job creation, and how you, the Alaka‘i Manager, can impact jobs. There’s no doubt that doing so gives you the chance to be a new kind of hero, admired for helping people in one of the best ways possible.

It’s a wonderful prospect, don’t you think?

What kind of heroes do you think we need in the workplace right now? Why?

Could you be that hero?

Think about having this conversation in one of your workplace huddles: Give it the context of your company environment, industry and discipline. Then listen, to see with your ears. I’d love to hear about the feedback you get, and what you think about it.

sayalakai_rosasay My mana‘o [The Backstory of this posting]
Each Tuesday I write a leadership posting for Say “Alaka‘i” at Hawai‘i’s newspaper The Honolulu Advertiser. If this is the first you have caught sight of my Say “Alaka‘i” tagline, you can learn more on this Talking Story page: About Say “Alaka‘i”.