hero syndrome

3 Self-Reflections for Heroes and Helpers

How do you show up for people when they need you: are you the hero or the helper? As a leader in the workplace, there are plenty of opportunities for you to add value to your organization. And there are certainly no shortages of requests for your help.  When you lend a hand to a colleague, what are you looking to gain? Do you feel like you need to save the day or can you provide an assist? When offering support, do you need to lead the pack or can you harness the collective intelligence of the team? When the work is done, do you need public recognition or a private thank you? The way you answer these questions will reveal if you are operating from a hero or helper space. We’re calling out leaders who are ready to reimagine how they can show up for other people. Use our three prompts below to self-reflect on whether you show up as a hero or helper when you support others.

3 Self-Reflections for Heroes and Helpers

1. Do you feel like you need to save the day?

When offering your help to an individual or a team, do you find yourself responding in an authoritarian or service-oriented manner? A hero may feel that the people around them need their unique direction and guidance to succeed. By contrast, a helper reflects on the ways that they can add value and provide an assist based on what the team is lacking. A hero sees a group of people that need saving, while a helper sees a community that can be served. Before you offer your services to another, ask yourself: are you preparing to do the work for them as a rescuer, or intent on becoming their partner?

2. Are you empowering the collective IQ of the team?

As heroes begin to provide their services, they can fall into the trap of thinking that the best way to contribute to a team is by centering their own strengths above everyone else’s. With this assumption, they position themselves as the supposed smartest person in the room and disregard the collective superpowers of others. While heroes see themselves as the leader of the pack, helpers recognize that every team member has the ability to be a leader. By nurturing and cultivating everyone’s unique strengths, the helper’s main intention is to strengthen the collective. Because they understand that the cooperative, the group, is stronger than any one individual. As you work within a team, is it a one-person show or will you empower each person to bring their best self?

3. How do you need to receive gratitude?

After you have given your services to others, it is a natural reaction to desire appreciation or gratitude — there is no shame or shade in this! But after you have served others, do you find that you crave public recognition, or is it satisfying enough that the work speaks for itself? Generally, heroes may operate from an unhealthy ego space as they seek public acknowledgment for their personal contributions to the team’s success. On the other hand, a helper’s driving motivation is seeing the successful outcome of the group, they don’t seek public recognition, and private gratitude from someone else is typically satisfying enough. So at the end of the day when the work is complete, do you receive gratitude as a hero or a helper?

Confront Your Hero Syndrome with EVOLVE to Lead Today

As you navigate the way you lead a team, continue to ask yourself if your intentions are rooted in uplifting yourself or instead, empowering those around you. So many leaders unknowingly have a hero syndrome that they need to work through, and practicing mindfulness of how and why you come to people’s aid is a great step in confronting this complex. Whether you showed up today as a hero or a helper for your team, ongoing self-reflection and failing forward will help you in your journey of becoming an evolutionary leader. Continue to reflect on why you serve, reveal how it shows up in your teamwork, and reimagine what kind of leader you can be with EVOLVE to Lead today!

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