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The Hero Complex – Quick Thoughts

March 4, 2012
Superman: Up, Up and Away!

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Growth or crisis spurs thoughts of bringing in or hiring the Hero, the problem solver, the operator, the cure-all.  Sometimes it works, many, it doesn’t.  A recent discussion recalled a lesson learned from one of my old companies:

In a previous company, we were growing and increasingly complex IT operational infrastructure.  I just couldn’t get enough people hired and trained and properly managed to control our growth – and well, in my location at the time, there just weren’t a lot of professional managers who could do what I needed done.  Finally, from exhaustive networking, a resume arrived – a professional, but with an expensive relocation package.

He interviewed perfectly and I went to work on the partners to pay what he wanted and get him moved.  I couldn’t wait to get him started.

During the move, I had my review session with our CEO.  He sent me an e mail and at the end, on personnel he said – I know you have high hopes for your new operations leader, but remember, “he ain’t no superhero” – keep an eye on him and don’t lose focus on operations.  It was advice I didn’t want to hear because my expectation was he would solve my problems and worries.  I thought, “you’re wrong, he’s the one”.

Of course, my CEO was right.  I fired him in 90 days – and I went back to work on operations. I might have even paid him more in severance than I did for actual work!  My CEO also left me with one of the only review sessions I actually remember.

My potential employee convinced me and I convinced me in believing in supernatural powers in human form.  That rarely happens in business and often results in disappointment.

Our society presses us that a quick fix, a pill, a solution exists for all our problems. Long-term solutions, sometime take long term effort.  Put another way, don’t let your perspective trump the reality of the situation.

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