From the many challenges men face at the workplace when it comes to their image and perception, this is probably the most hidden yet most powerful one. Because his “look” is so perfect on the outside, that others might sometimes question the quality of the inside (kind of the opposite of the Dwight Schrute challenge). I call him a “Superman”, the “Superman at work” that has a big ego, who gets stuff done, who is a mover and shaker, and sometimes even a hero – at least in his very own mind.
They are everywhere because everywhere there’s someone or something they have to take care of. And if there is anybody who can take care of a problem, it’s them. They exercise in the gym and have a perfectly toned body and white shiny teeth that you notice every time they have a smile on their lightly tanned face. Great hair, manicured nails, shiny shoes, expensive watch, powerful walk in their well-fitted suits—and still they hire me, the image consultant. Why? Because they want confirmation. They approach me with the high-value idea that they want to learn, look for advancement, and become “perfect.” But the truth is, they think they’re already perfect. After all, they’re supermen. Right?
Why is it that supermen don’t get promoted?
Oh, goodness, they do. They do all the time. Usually, too often. Because very quickly, when it comes down to the slow and steady grind of producing measurable results, supermen face challenges. The numbers can only be inflated for a certain amount of time. The moment others (or they themselves) figure out that the performance behind the Superman costume is not according to the performance they’re expected to deliver, they take off to rescue another project, team, or company. They just take off.
My answer to this dilemma? Every company needs supermen and superwomen. In fact, many of them, and consistently. The thing is, the true superheroes look like ordinary people who know how to put in the hours, day after day, week after week.