We all know The Hero of comic books and movie screens. The Superman. I wonder though how many people thought how tough actually is to be a Superman.
Imagine to be the only one who can help in certain situations – stop a falling airplane, halt an unstoppable train, swallow atomic bomb or such. Then imagine that there are two such occurrences at the same time – in Los Angeles cruise liner filled with vacationers aims for the bridge at full speed, in Chicago subway train full of passengers is just about to hit a freight train full of gasoline. The same instant. How do you choose? And how would you live with that choice?
As we all know, the Superman based his choice on his love to his only girl. He was where she happened to be in trouble, only if she was safe, the hero was taking care of the rest of the human race. The movies spared us cruise liner / subway train decision scenario, this would definitely not be entertaining.
In every day life some of us though do have to make some choices, maybe not so tragic in nature, but also serous enough at any given moment. I am talking about executives from many organisations, the ones “Competing for the future” of Hamel and Pralahad. Those people are not supermen, they do not have any superpowers. But they have to (it is their job) make decisions in order to move organisations (and through that, also us, people working in them) to the future. Their task is to make sure that those organisations have a future. And so they need to choose between promoting one person over the other, assigning resources to that project and not the other…
I am sure that you have already arrived yourself at my question: what do they base their choices on? We all would like to think that decisions they make are made after appropriate deliberations, that those are based on all sorts of smart advice, or scientific data. But I am sure that they are exactly like a Superman, at least in this: they make their choices based on their personal feelings; feelings toward themselves or to others.
The Superman seemed always to make the right choices and everything was always well right at the end of the story. Choices made by many executives do not always turn for the better of organisations. I am convinced that the more emotions (such as greed, jealousy, revenge…) are involved, the closer the demise of organisation which happen to have a superman for the boss.
Some of you may say, that the right amount of greed or jealousy may help in order to be successful for both executives and organisations. I say that this depends on your definition of success or amount of it (if it can be measured). Sometimes good enough is really good enough.