The fictional stories we read, watch and talk about in society reflect the values we seek. We grew up reading the comic books of Batman and watching Superman on TV. Some of us even dressed up as one of them for Halloween.
While we recognize that Superman would destroy Batman in a fist fight, our hearts connect with Batman’s struggle.
Superman is ‘super’ human. He’s the ultimate creation of all human values and muscle. He is humble, caring, kind, selfless and his only fault is his human emotion of love for the beautiful Lois Lane. As much as we love Superman, we idealism him. We see him as superior to humans, and just far enough from reach that we can admire him without any personal expectations.
Batman, however, is human. He’s an adult with childhood trauma that he’s still trying to overcome — a billionaire that is still searching for happiness. Batman is not as caring or kind; he’s rough around the edges, he has a tough-love mentality. Batman’s authenticity is what draws a generation of fans towards his character.
We see his faults in us and have hope that we too can rise to the challenge. We relate to his childhood traumas with our difficulties and forgive his imperfect values.
More and more people are pulled to leaders that resemble Batman, that demonstrate their authenticity as a leader.
Or as my students would put it “you’re just so REAL with us.” Most people don’t want to be led by Superman, a superhuman who doesn’t fatigue and doesn’t fault in judgement.
Be vulnerable as a leader. Be open and honest about your mistakes with your team. This creates a safe environment, where they see the human in you and will help you rise to the challenge when the going gets tough.
Authenticity builds trust.