Among the most anticipated movie releases this winter is Wonder Woman, a film in which a superheroine saves the world (again and again) under impossible circumstances.
What we don’t often see on the big screen are the everyday superheroes and superheroines who provide phenomenal services and support as part of their job. Their approach is less dramatic and has admittedly less flashy gadgets, but the results are equally jaw dropping. They safeguard and guide businesses through changes and help them to re-imagine the future.
These everyday superheroes and heroines have three essential superpowers: empathy, excellence, resilience.
Resilience is the ultimate shapeshifter superpower in business
These past months have been a reminder that teams need the ability to shift quickly and adapt to changing business environments. Above all they need resilience. Resilience is the equivalence of the shapeshifting power in Marvel comics. The outcomes of business changes are driven by people, the superheroes and superheroines within organizations who show resilience and grit to keep operations running and support even in the most strenuous circumstances.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Merete Wedell-Wedellsborg argues that the broader challenge is navigating the post-recovery phase. It is easy to lean back and forget the learnings when the pressure lessens. Part of the power of resilience is to rethink the future and shapeshift the business to a better place to the future for the recovery and renew phase.
Empathy nurtures diversity and inclusion
Showing empathy and care are especially critical during a crisis based on leadership studies. In every type of crisis, emotions run high as our world seems less controllable and less predictable. There is an increased need for comfort and peace of mind. Even if we all experience the same type of crisis, the impact is different on each company and individual. You must put yourself into the shoes of others to see and understand the situation from different perspectives. Practicing empathy is the foundation for understanding the needs of every colleague and customer to find the best solution and maintain trust.
Empathy is also a critical skill for nurturing diversity and inclusion. According to research by Juliet Bourke and Andrea Espedido of Deloitte, “Leaders who are humble and empathetic will be open to criticism about their personal biases, and greater self-insight into personal limitations prompts greater humility, empathy and perspective-taking.” In my own humble opinion, I consider empathy to be a superpower that should be learned and exercised at any given time and not just summoned when in a pinch.
The hardest superpower of all – continuous excellence
Commitment to excellence may be both, the most difficult and the most underrated superpower. Being an everyday superhero is hard work. You can’t just put on a cape on and snap a finger. It takes dedication to maintain a continuous high standard of excellence. Your work is not done after one day. The true power lies in showing the same high level of commitment and excellence every single day. When uncontrollable elements ripple through our universe, they focus on the parts that they can control and find their own lasso of truth to drive positive outcomes.
The superheroes and superheroines at work have at least one trait in common with their big screen counterparts. They take charge. Here is an example from my own team. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the SAP Services team quickly expanded the remote service model to enable up to 100% off-site delivery. We are delivering go-lives completely and remotely, from small projects to large transformations. Based on conversations with customers, we also released essential business services that support them in managing risk and enhance off-site working environments. While these new service offerings were generated by the team during a crisis, they will stay relevant and helped prepare customers for the future.
What I admire most about the three superpowers of resilience, empathy, and commitment to excellence is that these powers are skills that everyone can learn. Remember, in the Avengers Endgame movie, it took all the supers to collaborate to save the world. It is the same in business. The more superheroes and superheroines we have at work, the better we are equipped to face any type of challenge and build a better future for our customers.
This article was originally featured on SAP Brandvoice, Forbes.