Leadership Lessons From The Great Books – Shorts #11

The Spectacular Leading Superhero

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My name is Jesan Sorrells, and this is the Leadership Lessons from the Great Books Podcast- Shorts.
There’s no co-host on shorts.

These are two-to-four-minute observations, ideas, thoughts, or rants, about the literature, philosophy, psychology, and theology of leadership.

Because listening to me talk about leadership for two to four minutes is better than reading and trying to understand another business book.

“I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying…

…mass-market superhero movies seem to be abetting an audience who do not wish to relinquish their grip on (a) their relatively reassuring childhoods, or (b) the relatively reassuring 20th century…

…I think that a good argument can be made for D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation as the first American superhero movie…

…and the point of origin for all those capes and masks. ~ Alan Moore

Leaders move beyond reassurance, beyond culture, and beyond the mass market.

And, as leaders sit in the rubble of the post-COVID sifting; as we look around and attempt to come to terms with the abundance of the 20th century; as we face the trauma of a return to history, leaders need material to reconstruct a narrative that works.

The writers, tastemakers, cultural gatekeepers, and cultural voices of the 20th century—in particular the late 20th century—held power and sway over the consciousness of everyone, but particularly the consciousness of leaders.

Follow me here around the horn for just a second:

Politics is downstream from culture. And culture is downstream from philosophy and big ideas.

Yet leadership is required to carry the raft of people down and through the raging waters of ideas, culture, and politics and to keep everyone in the boat, and on the river. When leaders abet their followers—in this analogy, the passengers in the boat headed downstream—they open the possibility that the followers will wind up leading the boat to either crashing on the shore or drifting aimlessly.

Superheroics—represented by all those capes and masks—are not a cover for deeper bigotries, the fear of leaving childhood, or a desire to be reassured in a scary world.

They are, however, the antidote to bitterness, resentment, cynical pride, and dismissive arrogance that can plague leaders, followers, organizations, and even nation-states.

Leaders must exhibit optimism, but also a trait that goes beyond optimism and cuts through the dark heart of ennui that leads to becoming adrift on the seas of nothing.

Leaders must exhibit the vision and courage to move forward to places even a superhero, or supervillain, might dare to tread.

And without the permission of the overly repentant, the unrepentant, or those more interested in allusion and illusion than hard reality.