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Super Human Capital: Unleashing Workplace Super Heroes

By Kevin on June 20, 2012 in HCM, leadership
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(Reprinted from my column, Super Human Capital, on Forbes.com.)

My focus—in practice and in study—has been on how to unleash incredible talent in order to build great companies.

I call my approach “Super Human Capital” because I believe a talented fully engaged workforce has a lot in common with pop-culture superheroes we all know and love.

My personal favorites have always been the superheroes that don’t actually have any special powers. As a youngster I loved watching the Lone Ranger on TV. Later my favorite comic books included Batman and Ironman (and, yes, I’m nerdy enough to actually have an Ironman action figure standing on my desk as I write this). Today’s superheroes include James Bond and even Katniss Evergreen from the Hunger Games.

All of these superheroes were regular people who decided to go above and beyond in pursuit of a higher goal. They could have just gone along with normal lives, but instead they chose to take some risks, put in some extra crime-fighting hours, for the betterment not of themselves but for society as a whole.

Corporate superheroes indeed walk among us. They’re rare, but I’ve seen them. I’ve worked with teams of them. They  use discretionary effort, take personal risks, in pursuit of their organization’s goals. You’ve seen them too. It’s that one team member you have that you wish you had 10 more just like her. It’s that person who resigned from the company you work for and you thought, “Oh man, now what are we going to do.”

The most effective have also discovered and developed their unique skills to great effect. Now most HR and OD experts would call this “employee engagement” and “strengths-based” management. But what’s the fun in that?

Leadership is an adventure to develop Super Human Capital. How can we best create teams of corporate superheroes, and how can engaged individuals accomplish amazing things?

Before you go, scroll down to the Comment window below and let me know who your favorite super hero is and why.

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Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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