“Heroic Acts” Should Not Be the Norm

When we hear the heart wrenching stories of young soldiers who have selflessly thrown themselves on grenades to save their teammates we feel like the word “hero” doesn’t come close to accurately describing the person or the act. That’s because it doesn’t. Heroic acts are what they are because thankfully, they are not the norm. They are the exception. But what if acts like this were the norm? What if they happened all the time? They would be no less heroic, but we should then rightly question the leadership that continuously puts their people in positions to have to exercise heroism.

Battlefield to boardroom comparisons are useful because the battlefield shows us, in the most dramatic fashion, the consequences of poor leadership. I have thankfully never been in a position in combat where someone had to throw themselves on a grenade to save others. But if I had, I know that I would go over and over how we found ourselves in that position and ensure I did everything possible so it never had to happen again. Now take the analogy to your team or organization.

Is your team constantly going “above and beyond” to achieve their goals? Are they just “getting it done”, “doing what they need to do”, “sucking it up”, “sacrificing”?

Now ask yourself is that a sustainable model of team behavior?

The answer is no, it is not.

It is nothing more than a chaotic environment where hope is the strategy.

Leaders, if you get to recognize a team for occasionally “sacrificing” and “getting it done”, great, celebrate the effort. But if you are finding that this is consistently what is happening, then it is time to take a long hard look at yourself and get control of things. Because constant heroism soon becomes nothing more than the leader’s failure to put their team in positions that are as sustainable and predictable as possible. Welcome to leadership!

Errol Doebler is the founder of Ice Cold Leader, a leadership consulting firm. After successful careers as a Navy SEAL Platoon Commander and FBI Special Agent, Errol founded Ice Cold Leader to realize his passion of empowering great leaders and better human beings. Errol provides executive coachingkeynote speaking, and corporate retreats to individuals and teams across the world.

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