It’s time to put the Superhero Cape in the closet!



Have you worked with a leader who has trouble delegating and they need to do everything themselves?   I have to admit that I had this issue the first time I had a really large team with multiple layers below me.  I struggled to trust the managers who worked for me to make their own decisions and when they did things their way vs. my way, it would really frustrate me.

One day I attended a leadership session and I had a big revelation.   One of the leaders of the session said: “when you become a leader at this level you need to put the Superhero Cape in the closet.”    I asked him what he meant by that statement.   He said, “it is time for you to stop being the superhero and for you to start creating other superheroes.”  It was true.  I had been a superhero which helped me get promoted, but now I needed to get things done through others and help them develop their own leadership.

I thought it was a great metaphor and I have used it many times when I have coached other leaders who are struggling with similar issues.    Here are some tips to help you through this if you are falling into this trap:

  1. Ask yourself why can’t I delegate this activity that I am about to do?

  2. Give your team the outcome, but let them come up with the best way to do it.

  3. Ask questions of the team to understand what they are thinking vs. telling them how to do it.

  4. Provide check-in opportunities and guidance, but hold them accountable to execute.

  5. Don’t take back something you have delegated to them if it isn’t going well. Coach them by asking questions to help them figure out how to move forward.

  6. Recognize them when they accomplish things so they gain confidence.

Leaders cannot do all the work by themselves.  It is just not sustainable.   Delegating and holding people accountable provides many benefits to you as the leader:

  • You can focus on what you need to do as the leader of the group

  • People see you as a leader who develops their team

  • The people who work for you gain confidence, experience, and exposure

  • You are creating a group that is not dependent on you to get things done

  • You can train your successor so when you are ready to move to the next job, they are ready to take over

Being a leader who coaches their team gives them new opportunities to learn and grow.  After all, isn’t that what being a leader is all about?  Think about that the next time you are talking with your team.   You can even tell your team that you are working on increasing your delegation and they should hold you accountable to do more of it.

What about you?  Have you put your own Superhero cape in the closet or are you still wearing it?   Share your story below.  Just remember there are a lot of us reformed superheroes out there in the world who are there to help!

If you would like my help, please reach out to me by clicking on this link:

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