Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Identifying The Real Hero In Your Organization’s Story

When it comes to storytelling in business, the most commonly used story archetype is that of the hero and their quest. Essentially, these stories involve a protagonist whose normal life is disrupted by some external change and subsequently goes on a journey in an attempt to resolve or improve the situation.

As the story progresses, the hero seeks the help of a guide or mentor to help them overcome the various obstacles in their path while keeping them on track to reaching their destination. By the end of their quest, the hero not only attains an outcome which serves to improve things, but they also realize that they’ve been transformed as a result of their adventure, having gained a greater understanding of themselves and the nature of their journey.

It’s not too surprising that this particular story archetype is often used in business to communicate ideas or a new vision as it serves to reinforce our perception of leadership. Namely, how leaders address the challenges that stand in the way of their organization’s success by taking their team on a journey defined by their vision or plans for change.

Also, given the fact that it’s the decisions and choices made by those in leadership positions which ultimately determines whether an organization will be successful or not, it’s only natural that we view leaders as playing the role of the hero in an organization’s story. And yet, a closer examination of the hero’s story described above reveals that the real hero of your organization’s story are not those who man the helm.

The real hero in your organization’s story are the people you lead – your employees.

After all, it’s your employees who are affected the most by your vision or plans for change as these new measures disrupt their ‘normal’ work life. As a result, they are naturally motivated to resist the changes being put forth in order to preserve their sense of normalcy regarding ‘the way things are done around here’.

That’s why leaders have to be the champions of their cause because at this point in the story, your employees only see it as a challenge to what’s familiar and known, and not an opportunity to achieve one of their shared goals or a chance to gain new insights.

And it’s also your employees who are transformed by your vision because in the process of implementing your plans for change, they gain a new understanding of their shared purpose and the meaning derived from these new efforts. That’s why it’s critical that your idea or vision resonate with those you lead.  It has to matter by creating value and meaning in others besides yourself because the journey and end result will impact them more than it will you.

Of course, that’s not to say that leaders don’t play an integral role in your organization’s story. Indeed, looking at this story archetype from this new vantage point, it becomes clear that the role leaders play in their organization’s narrative is that of the guide or mentor.

That as a leader, your function is to take advantage of your ability to see the big picture to help keep your employees on track and to provide assistance and guidance on how they can address the challenges they’ll inevitably face along the way.

And as this journey is one that you’ve laid out for your team to undertake, it’s only natural that you’d be invested in making sure that they’re successful in their endeavour, by providing them with whatever insights and guidance you can provide while still leaving it up to them to choose which path they need to take to reach their objectives.

It’s why I’ve written on numerous occasions that the goal of a true leader is not to increase their stature or power, but to empower and guide those under their care to be successful in achieving their shared goals. It’s also why those organizations which are the most successful in today’s competitive market are often directed by leaders who are more interested in understanding how they can help their employees succeed than they are in self-promotion and increasing their power base.

By recognizing that it’s your employees who are the heroes of your organization’s story, we can better appreciate how important it is for them to become the champions of your cause as it will be up to them to embark on the journey to transform your ideas into reality. It also makes it easier for us to understand how critical their collective success will be to determining whether your organization’s story will have a happy ending or not.

Click here to subscribe to my blog so you can get my latest posts sent directly to your inbox.

  1. On April 4th, 2012 at 7:24 AM Adrian said:

    The stories of heroes are always motivational. The real fact about these stories is that after getting to know about the conclusion and end, we feel like we should do the same!!

  2. On April 4th, 2012 at 9:41 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Adrian,

    I think that's true of most good stories – where they get us to consider our own world, our own perceptions and even our own realities and how our actions can improve or change them.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  3. On April 5th, 2012 at 6:46 AM vps said:

    Interesting perspective and very well written… I truly believe and have witness the people who not only build them selves as mentor over the years but also help others to grow and become big with others in the company.
    In our Industry SEOmoz is the company that build itself as a mentor in the industry over the years and also help others to grow with them… the best part if you do this is to receive the love and care from the community…

  4. On April 5th, 2012 at 11:35 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks; glad you enjoyed it. Your point about helping "others to grow with them" is an important one as this is one of the key traits of being a successful leader.

    As much as you're learning and gaining new insights of what it takes to serve those under your care, you should also be providing opportunities for your employees to grow and learn as well in terms of what they need to do to become a more valuable contributor to your shared goals.

    Thanks for adding this point to the discussion.

  5. On April 5th, 2012 at 3:05 PM Ellen Weber said:

    Tanveer – this is amazing in that it’s what’s often missed at work! Thanks for shining a light on heroes and for being one to many of us.

    Today I wrote a post on the amazing power of choice and moods that often get missed – ) – so that heroes are too often halted! Have you seen it? Ellen

  6. On April 5th, 2012 at 9:29 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Aw, thanks Ellen for the compliment; honoured to be considered in such a light.

    I haven't seen your latest piece; I'll be sure to take a look.

    Again, my thanks for the kind words, Ellen. Touched and honoured by it.

  7. On April 5th, 2012 at 7:27 PM Aliosha Kasin said:

    Well written post Tanveer. Great leaders are able to influence others to achieve great things and really push the organisation forward.

  8. On April 5th, 2012 at 9:33 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Aliosha; glad you enjoyed it.

  9. On April 9th, 2012 at 10:32 PM Sean Mal said:

    Interesting post, Tanveer. Thinking about the "hero" story, one can adopt the fiction to real life and/or come up with an adjusted conclusion. Thanks for sharing.

  10. On April 9th, 2012 at 11:10 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    You're welcome, Sean. Glad you enjoyed this piece.

  11. On April 10th, 2012 at 5:17 PM Sajaltong said:

    Awesome post! I have really so much enjoyed reading your valuable post Tanveer. Actually we have to recognize our heroes of the organization and promote them as much as we can because they are the main leaders and mentors of the organization. This practice so effectively influence and motivate our employees to a great extent increasing the productivity as well. Thanks for sharing such an important post.

  12. On April 12th, 2012 at 1:59 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Thanks Sajaltong; I'm glad to hear you enjoyed reading this post. Appreciate the kind words and your thoughts on this piece.

  13. On April 12th, 2012 at 10:37 AM George Miller said:

    Hero's story are inspiring. Problems will arise but later on they manage to be strong and face it with brave hearts.

  14. On April 12th, 2012 at 2:03 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Indeed, in large part because going through the process of challenging their assumptions about themselves and their environment allowed them to gain a better clarity about their real capabilities and function.

  15. On April 12th, 2012 at 10:51 AM Jim Matorin said:

    Tanveer: A great leader believes all his or her people are heroes. One can not always motivate by money, but leaders be amazed if they walked the floor and spread a little sugar how far they would get.

  16. On April 12th, 2012 at 2:02 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Absolutely, Jim. Far from being simply "cogs in the wheel", each of your employees provides a key piece to the puzzle that will allow your organization to succeed. Of course, in order for your organization to be successful, we first have to start by making efforts to ensure that our employees are successful in theirs.

    Thanks for sharing your piece, Jim. I remember that one and I appreciate your bringing it to the attention of my readers.

Your Comment: