Growing a business requires superhuman dedication. Imagine what having superpowers could do.
Most of the time, superheroes are not born, but made.
From zipping from meeting to meeting, to rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous (read: potential investors), it seems like superheroes would make the best business leaders. And while we can’t promise you the Batmobile, or Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, there are a few business lessons you can learn from your fictional favourites.
1. Superman – Know your weaknesses
He may be faster than a speeding bullet, but humility may actually be Superman’s biggest strength.
Superman used his weakness to Kryptonite as a constant reminder that even he isn’t invincible. Apart from this serving as a sobering reality check, knowing your weaknesses can help you prepare for exigencies and to turn weakness into an advantage.
2. Batman – Networking is everything
There’s no one as connected or charismatic in Gotham City as millionaire Bruce Wayne. Sure, being born rich mayhave helped elevate him into a world where caviar and champagne are major food groups, but Batman’s alter ego puts in a lot of work throwing parties, attending gala dinners, museum openings, charity auctions and the like.
Networking generally requires a huge investment lot of time and energy, which can be draining for a superhero who fights crime after dark. Even then, Bruce Wayne is committed to attending all the Gotham’s hottest networking events because he knows it’s an investment with high returns, helping the Dark Knight be in-the-know to pre-empt crime or get a leg up on villains when he can.
For entrepreneurs, networking can open doors to new markets, business partners, clients, marketing initiatives and more. It can also help you get an edge over your competitors.
The jury is still out on whether the batsuit is considered black tie.
3. The Flash – React immediately
Business moves at breakneck speed when you’re least ready. The Flash, of course, is naturally endowed with lightning fast speed, which helps him react and make split-second decisions before the rest of us even know what’s going on.
The most important lesson we can extract from the Flash is how to react as capably and quickly as possible in the face of the unexpected.
Most competent leaders are expected to make tough decisions, but the best leaders know what to do in a spectrum of scenarios, whether it’s responding to a market crash, currency rate fluctuations, an unexpected illness, or a social media scandal.
4. Iron Man – Technology makes the hero
Cocky billionaire business magnate and engineer extraordinaire Tony Stark loves his gadgets and gizmos. In his origin story, he was kidnapped to make weapons of mass destruction against his will.
Thinking quickly, Tony Stark built his iconic power suit instead, and Iron Man was born.
Like Batman, Iron Man has no natural superpowers. He has had to improvise, leaning on technology and his wits to outsmart, outrun, out-fly and outperform his adversaries.
You don’t need to be a tech entrepreneur to embrace technology. Business owners who are open to the latest business technology can realise a lot of gains in efficiency.
An integrated HR, payroll, expenses and tax software platform, or cloud-based operations like Google Office, could streamline tedious admin and boost efficiency, for example.
5. Wonder Woman – Rise above it
Sculpted from clay and bestowed with divine powers from a pantheon of Greek deities, Amazonian princess Diana commands respect both as Wonder Woman and as her epithetical name, Diana Prince.
In the DC universe, she is depicted as being as physically strong as Superman, and as connected and diplomatic as Bruce Wayne.
Wonder Woman is a fierce but even-tempered hero, and while she prefers diplomacy and peace, she never backs down from confrontation.
She follows the Amazon code, helping even the most misogynistic adversaries in the interest of the greater good. Entrepreneurs have a lot to learn from Wonder Woman, especially when dealing with prejudice and criticism when growing their business.
A successful entrepreneur believes in what he or she does and knows when to ignore the naysayers. They’re also guided by diplomacy and know when to keep the peace, especially in the public eye.
6. Wolverine – Pick yourself up after a fall
Of all the outcasts in the X-men clan, Wolverine may be the most emotionally damaged and angsty. All of the X-men teach us a lot about knowing who we are, and pushing against adversity, but Wolverine has a lot more to offer the business world.
Even after the worst, most injurious fight, Wolverine heals, regenerates, and returns to fight again another day.
Successful entrepreneurs aren’t afraid of failure. Recognising and learning from setbacks helps you come back even stronger. Taking calculated risks and embracing constructive failure are two traits that can serve you well.
7. Spider-Man – With great power comes great responsibility
Mild-mannered Peter Parker became a superhero out of sheer luck. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker developed the strength, agility and a sixth sense for danger (his ‘spidey senses’) of an arachnid. Peter Parker’s biggest mistake was that he got carried away with his new-found powers and snazzy self-fashioned costume.
In his hubris, he chose to showboat infront of the press than stop a fleeing thief, who then turned out to mug and kill Peter Parker’s father figure, his uncle Ben.
His grief and guilt led to him uttering the most famous quote in comic book history: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Remember those words when you face tough decisions or whether to scale up and close down. As a business owner, a lot of people look up to you, from business partners and staff, to suppliers and even clients.
Staying humble can help put your plans into perspective.
8. Fantastic Four– Strength in numbers
Four intrepid space explorers gain unique powers after being exposed to huge amounts of cosmic rays, returning to earth as the Fantastic Four: Mr Fantastic, with impossible powers of contortion, the Invisible Woman who can bend and shape light to be invisible to the naked eye, the Human Torch, and a craterous mass of humanoid, the Thing.
The Fantastic Four’s strength as individuals are only enhanced as a group, working together despite constant personality clashes.
Creator Stan Lee refers to the foursome as “heroes with hang-ups” referring to each of their weaknesses, from volatile tempers to immaturity and impracticality. Their weaknesses, however, cancel out when they work in a team.
Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the team dynamics of the Fantastic Four. Working with different personalities is a business reality, but a good leader knows how to turn the weaknesses of individual team members into an advantage for the team.
Knowing how to motivate and reward your team, as well as diffusing tensions and managing conflicts is a true skill.
You don’t need X-ray vision or a hideout to be a business superhero. As long as you learn from the best on when to be humble, when to be strong-willed, and when to make the most of networking and technology, you don’t need a spandex suit to prove you’re a business superhero.