Exploring the Relationship between Leadership and Heroism

A hero may lead, but only if she inspires others to follow. 

Heroes and Leaders: Similarities and Differences

A hero voluntarily walks into the unknown. A hero performs an extraordinary deed under extraordinary circumstances. A hero is brave for a few minutes longer than ordinary men. 

A leader, on the other hand, may do all that, but more importantly, inspires others to follow. A leader sees the “big picture”. A leader inspires heroes. 

Both heroes and leaders show courage. They are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. They sacrifice themselves for the greater good and complete seemingly impossible tasks. 

The main difference is consistency and the fact that heroes do not have to influence others. A leader, on the other hand, is expected to bring out the best in his followers. The leader has to set an example and he has to gain trust. A leader has to be consistent, assimilating these qualities into his character.

A hero reacts to events on a tactical level. The leader acts strategically.

Acts of heroism are often impulsive and as such do not make a measure of true character. Sports heroes, celebrities, as well as business heroes, have proven countless times that heroism is difficult to sustain over time. 

A Hero Is a Hands-on Protagonist

In the 1939–1940 Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland, Finnish army sniper Simo Heyha single-handedly took out more than 500 Red Army soldiers, earning the title “the deadliest sniper in history” and the nickname “The White Death.” 

Clad in white winter camouflage, Heyha completed the feat in fewer than 100 days, relying on his hunting skills and outstanding ability to estimate distances. 

From the Finnish perspective, the man was the definition of a hero.  

Heroes accomplish well-defined feats of courage in the arena of life. They disarm droves of enemy combatants singlehandedly. They rescue hostages against all odds, and they volunteer for seemingly impossible missions. 

They are willing to take a leap of faith. 

A Leader “Makes Things Happen”

Leaders may have such well-defined deeds on their records as well, but their value does not lie in heroics. 

The intelligent leader sees the big picture. She strategizes, plans, and executes. Great leaders may inspire heroism in their followers, and when that happens, they see it as a positive development. 

A leader inspires consistently. 

Leadership is about defining “the mission” and empowering others to help complete it. Earning respect and wielding influence are the specific tasks of the leader. 

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

A leader needs to be a constant source of inspiration for her followers.

Leadership Training Helps Leaders See the Entire System

Unlike heroics, leadership can be learned, developed, and improved. Leadership training helps leaders discover their strengths and weaknesses, influence others through specific techniques, and earn the respect of their reports and peers. 

Through leadership training, leaders gain the ability to develop plans to overcome their weaknesses. They become capable of seeing the “big picture” and acting or reacting to events on a strategic level. 

To learn more about leadership training and intelligent leadership, contact us today. 

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