Hero Complex

I want to spend a minute expounding on a previous post where I talked about having (past tense) a hero complex.  I guess the logical place to start is with a definition (albeit, mine) of hero complex.

It is similar in context to the arsonist firefighter lighting fires and then serving as a first responder.  Now to be fair, the arsonist firefighter has a much more negative connotation.  The hero complex is where you need to be the one who solves the hard problems and saves the day.  There are a few problems with this.

At face value, the hero is the one that everyone can depend on to solve the problems and put out fires.  This sounds like a great thing to have someone so dependable, but…  The team dynamic, when there is a hero, can turn ugly.

If there is always someone there to do for you what you can do yourself, you are then robbed of the ability to be accountable.  It also robs you of the glory of saving the day on your own.

I previously held the opinion that this is what a servant leader is.  Shielding the team from the stuff that was less fun aka site down.  That was something that I thought made a good leader.

In the Marine Corps, we were taught that you shouldn’t ask someone to do something that you were unwilling to do yourself.  I think that is a good starting point, but it will not win the race on its own.

When I reflect on those days, I realize that I had an issue because the people were not meeting my expectation.  This was not because they weren’t capable, but rather because I expected that they would be me.  Do things the way I would do it.  Looking back, I can say that this was pretty dumb.

The fact is they were all very talented engineers who could have solved any one of the many problems in an equal number of ways, and maybe one of them was my way.  The important piece is that they solved the problem and not how it was solved.

Now I can take another look at the servant leader and it’s role.  How can a leader best serve the team that he is responsible for?  That begs another question to be asked.  What is the team responsible for?  Your job as a leader is to make sure that they can do their job!  Get them the tools, training, extra help, etc. that is needed to get the job done.

It is a wise leader who can spot and draw out what the team needs to help them achieve their goals.  It is a wise leader who can inspire the team to improve and solve impossible problems.  Sorry, but it is time for a Simon Sinek quote.

It is the leader who should help the team develop why they do what they do instead of what they do.  It is the why they do what they do that will inspire them to come to work, login and do great things.

I started this post talking about the hero complex and how I was once afflicted with that disease.  I can say that I am hero free.  My focus now is to help my team develop our “Why” so that we can inspire each other.  Cheers…


A Thousand Words & Lessons Learned

I have read articles that have stated that to become a better writer – you need to write.  Its not just the act of writing, there are expectations to achieve the benefit.  A thousand words a day, every day is purported to make you a better writer.

I think that it is very possible that writing a thousand words a day will work, but as an average person (aka not a Kardashian) I run out of words pretty quick. I want for this blog to be a platform to share my knowledge as well as a medium to practice writing.


I have spent so much time reading personal development and communication to try to improve other rough edges that I have little time left to practice.  That is just an excuse.

I feel disappointed that there are days when I feel like I have done little more than prepare my next set of excuses.  I guess that is part of the ebb and flow of life.

I have been through trials and tribulations in the past, and each time I have come out better for it.  I am in a similar state lately, so I am working on ME to get ready for my next set of challenges.  I am fortunate to have been given the rope to fail (too heavy a word for the situation) which had the unexpected side affect of giving me a front row view to a valuable lesson.

I have created several opportunities in the last 24 months for myself to reflect and grow.

~Lessons Learned~

Let’s start with Focus.  I know that management is where I am most happy, but I made some mistakes when I had a team of ten.  I used my autonomy (not really, but hang on) to work on personal projects.  That sounds really unethical, but I mean projects that I wanted to work on that would ultimately serve the team.

At the time, I rationalized in many of ways that I was doing what was needed and I was serving the team but that wasn’t true.  I was taking something very important from the team, accountability.  It wasn’t until recently that this lesson became visible.  I was listening to the book “Notes To A Software Team Leader” by Roy Osherove that I saw that I had taken from the team that which I needed from them the most.

I used to feel proud of myself because of the value I created, since I often needed to step in and help with the firefight.  At the same time, I was thinking that they should be able to solve these issues on their own so why can’t they.  I realize now that I was the reason that they could not fix it.

They didn’t need to because “Heath would always be there to fix it”.  What a mistake that was!  I work with an amazing team of engineers and the fact is that they are the best ones positioned to solve these problem.  I wasn’t the one that was writing the code, so why did I think I was the best one to fix it?

That was a major aha moment for me. When I read that passage in the book it gave me a substantial pause of reflection.  I was very disappointed knowing that I took that away from them.

That was a very big one for me, but there is another that I think was the most disappointing.  I learned that mentorship will not come to you – you must actively seek it out.  That is something that I expected to take place.  Someone to help guide me in directions that I would not have otherwise seen and provide affirmation in the ones that I did.

I saw a youtube from John Somnez where someone had asked about how to find a mentor and that is where the lightening bulb moment happened.  Mentors are not always seeking apprentices.  Another thing that I came to realize is that you may not realize that you are being mentored.

I learn something everyday from at least one team member everyday.  I consider this to be a form of mentoring by committee.  I have also received personal mentoring from people that have reported to me.

What I am eluding to is that I no longer believe that mentoring happens in our field like a journeyman or apprentice.  You need to take the lessons as they come and try to learn from them.  You have to ask for clarity when things are unclear or get counseled when you need guidance.

At the start of this post I mentioned how you need to write a thousand words every day in order to improve your writing skills, but at this point I only have 796…