By User12601034-Oracle on Nov 11, 2014
My kids are enamored with fantasy fiction, so we spend a lot of time in the car and at bedtime reading such books. Our current book is “Percy Jackson, Lightning Thief.” In the story, 12-year-old Percy has to complete a quest to basically save the world. He’s challenged along the way by both monsters and the Greek gods, befriended by satyrs and demi-gods – and we’re anxiously waiting to find out if he succeeds in his quest.
As I was reading the book to my kids the other night, I realized that the sets of characters in the book are all leaders in some way, but they all have extremely different leadership styles. The four main groups of characters are:
Gods. The Greek gods are an interesting lot. They rule the world (and the underworld), are temperamental, and they have fits if things don’t go their way. I liken this to the unenlightened leader who believes that being a leader is akin to holding power over others. These characters (in the book and in life) might have great experiences that we could learn from, but they have to lose the ego if they want us to pay attention.
Demi-Gods. The demi-gods are half god/half mortals who struggle throughout the book – they’re basically trying to find their way, but they’re not getting a lot of help. In the business world, this is similar to the person who gets tossed into a leadership role and provided the advice “sink or swim.” While it’s nice to know that people believe in you, it would be better if you actually had a plan of some sort to help you be more effective.
Monsters. The monsters like to cause problems – a three headed beast that attacks from all sides, hellhounds that dish out punishment, minotaurs who kill, Medusa who turns people into stone. In the business world, these are the leaders who drop in, drop a bomb and then exit quickly, leaving the rest of us to pick up the mess. Although we’re glad when they’re gone, it would be nice if these leaders would think through the mess they’re about to create (and maybe restrain themselves from creating such mess).
Mere Mortal. The mere mortal doesn’t have a lot of power other than the ability to not see a lot of the ugly things happening around them. The mortal concentrates on their own life and has little to do with the gods and their world. This is similar to the leader who chooses to move forward without regard to events around him. Many of us may feel that we fall into this category as other people/gods “do things” to us, and we have no power to change anything. The mere mortal can benefit, however, from exploring the context of his or her world and understanding how he or she can work in that environment.
You might never have a quest where the fate of the world depends on your actions. However, it might be worth a few minutes to think about where you fall on the god/mortal styles of leadership as the fate of your people and your teams definitely do depend on you.