Key Learning Outcomes

  • Distinguish the more successful business owners and managers by their well-developed skills and unlimited energy.
  • Recognise the symptoms of “superhero-itis” and the associated potential downside for your business.
  • Identify ways to empower your team so they too become problem-solvers.
  • Learn to set reasonable expectations for your clients and involve the entire team in a transaction.


People who are successful business owners or high-achieving managers and income generators generally have many traits in common. They will usually have high energy levels and are very skilled at what they do. They are also passionate, confident, determined and usually have a nice healthy ego. If you are reading this and believe you are one of those people, you probably think that this sounds pretty good and we would tend to agree. These people live our “absolute best” philosophy, striving to achieve the very best result they can, leaving no stone unturned in their desire for self and business improvement.

But, and there is almost always a but, with most things in life, some bad comes with good. Sometimes these high-achieving individuals can suffer from what we like to call “superhero-itis”. This syndrome has developed because these types of people are often keen to go above and beyond what is expected, they tend to be natural problem-solvers and they can get impatient when it takes others longer than they would to complete tasks and projects. These are not bad traits and in fact are part of the reason these people are successful; however, they can lead to some issues with clients and employees that in the long term are counter-productive to becoming a high achiever.

Look for the following signs. Are you suffering from superhero-itis?

With employees

Swoop in mentality – Like any superhero, you are on the lookout for danger and emergency situations. At the first sign of trouble you swoop in like Superman to the rescue. While on occasion this might be appropriate and necessary behaviour to avoid a crisis with a client or with your team, it should be the exception rather than the rule. It is important to give people time to try and come up with their own solution. We generally learn from experience; therefore, if your employees never experience problems they will never develop into problem-solvers themselves.

Revolving door policy – You find you are never alone in your office or workspace. You have a constant stream of people coming to you “just to double check” before they move forward on a project or task. This can become an issue over time because you have not empowered those around you to make decisions and move forward. Again, people learn a lot by making the odd mistake, we all have. So it is important to let those around you make some mistakes too. Your job is to guide them, help them to make better decisions and to ensure that they learn from mistakes they make along the way.

No one does it quite like I do – You find that no one quite measures up to your high standards. If you find yourself re-doing things that you feel have been completed below standard or are doing things that really should or could be delegated to others, this is a clear sign you are suffering from the superhero syndrome. Remember, your role as a leader is to develop those around you so they perform at their best. While it might take a little time initially, the more effort you put into training and empowering your team, the greater the long-term rewards both for you and for them. In fact, given an opportunity you might find that someone actually can do it better than you or may come up with an alternative that is quicker, easier or more effective!

With clients

You never say no – You agree to things that are really beyond the scope of your services or abilities. Like a superhero you do not like to turn down a damsel in distress and this leaves you with projects or jobs that are either unprofitable or take you away from your core business. Learning to say “no” is an important skill to learn in business and in life. As someone who is committed to excellence, when you say “yes” you will give it your all, so it is important to say “yes” to the right things. No one will think lesser of you for saying “no” as you are likely to have a very good reason. It is better to try and point them in the direction of someone who would be able to help them more effectively.

You over-promise all the time – You take going above and beyond to the extreme, pushing yourself to the edge to meet the commitments you have made. Now don’t get us wrong – we believe that you should do everything to your absolute best ability and we love nothing more than adding some surprise and delight to a customer transaction. The key is to remember that people have engaged you to deliver a service. If you can deliver beyond what they expect, then you will create raving fans and we applaud that. If, however, you promise above and beyond all the time, your clients will simply set this as their standard expectation, and you may put yourself in a situation where you are unable to deliver on this, leaving some clients feeling disappointed.

It is all about you – Your clients expect that they will be dealing with you and feel let down if they have to deal with one of your team. Everyone wants to deal with Batman rather than Robin, but for your business to expand it has to be about the business, not just you. It is important to promote your team as experts in their various fields. Set the expectations early with your clients so they are very clear about who they will be dealing with through the various stages of the transaction or process. Use your authority as the leader to build your team members’ credibility. You might, for example, tell a client, “with the accounts you will be dealing with Sally. She has over 20 years experience and is our best accounts manager”.

Everyone wants to be a hero. Who wouldn’t love to fly like Superman or do a quick change like Wonder Woman?  In business and life there are certainly times when you need to put on the cape and push beyond your normal capabilities to get the job done. These times are usually as exhilarating and exciting as they are exhausting. It is important to remember that you do not have to be a hero every day and spend a little time in disguise as Clark Kent or Diana Prince. Use your knowledge, skills and abilities to empower those around you. This will enable you to build your team and your business for long-term growth and success.

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