The One Question All Leaders Ask Themselves

You’ve probably seen it played out on the screen many times. A runaway train is about to jump the tracks, sending hundreds hurtling to their deaths. A mother and her children are trapped on the top floor of their flame-engulfed apartment building. A bunch of machine gun-toting bad guys are about to rob the city bank. The scenarios change, but have a common theme: People are in deep trouble and need help—fast!

At the last possible moment, bursting out of the nearest phone booth in his blue leotard and red cape come Superman, faster than a speeding bullet. You can substitute your favorite good guy if you want to, but the idea is always the same: When the superhero arrives, and the threat is disarmed, the crisis is averted, and lives are saved.

Here’s what I wonder when I see those old clips: Why doesn’t somebody else step up and do something to save the day? It’s like everybody else is powerless even to try to intervene. The people seem resigned to the fact that if Superman doesn’t show up, they’re all doomed. So nobody even tries.

Real leaders do not reflect the paralysis of the citizens of Metropolis. Rather, they ask: What can I do to make this situation better? And then, they do something. They tend to call on themselves as the first source to correct difficult situations. It doesn’t matter whether they think they are to blame or not. Even if someone else is at fault, they take initiative to address the problem and seek a solution. Whatever the answer may be, leaders make a move.

If you’re not in your ideal position or role at work, dig up your dream and ask: What do I need to do now? What do I need to do to get where I want to be? What skills do I need to develop? What fears do I need to get past? Whom do I need to meet? How can I invest my talents?

Be who you were created to be. Send Superman to the unemployment line. Get moving and do something!

Henry discuss the different qualities that make leaders great in his new podcast, The Leadership University Podcast. Listen now.