The Superhero complex



“Has there ever been a leader of greater moral fiber than Mrs. Sonia Gandhi?!!!” 
“Has the nation seen a better Prime Minister than Atal Bihari Vajpayee?!” 
Even as I am writing this blog, two respected members of Congress and BJP are throwing this words around, digressing from the issues at hand. Gets me thinking why is it in India we fail to see the humanness in our leaders?


I remember working as a trainee in TCS being told a handshake with Mr. Ramadorai (the then CEO) is much more than a handshake “it’s a blessing for life!” said the training center head. While I have nothing but respect for the reverred CEO and I was honored to have met him, I really fail to understand why we have to idolize every person who leads a company. And no it is not about the leader here as I know “Ram” (as he was called across TCS by his orders) to be a very humble and practical leader. He is a visionary in the true sense of the word but his speeches never consisted of words like “I bless you all!”. Then why in a company of 1 lac we find at least around 70 to 80 thousand people who line up just to get a “blessing” from him whenever he came over for a visit.


It’s not just corporates though, academic institutions like the ones where I studied and am currently studying also went thoroughly under one single leadership and I remember the Dean’s words being quoted in both places like they were little drops from heaven! Now the words by both leaders do need their due respect here but do I call it divine? 


The problem with such unattainable standards of leadership is already visible in organizations like Apple, when Steve Jobs fell ill, Apple stocks plunged and only stabalized after a public statement was issued. But there definitely is shift of balance in the West, CEOs were under constant scrutiny during the recession. Is this “idolizing” an Indian phenomena? We pray to our celebrity gods like Sachin and Rajnikanth. Is it just that we as Indians have always sought out a hero? We waited for a Gandhi for almost a century and then agreed to whatever the government put in front of us without a fight back. Are we a nation of the subservient?


Now what kind of a leader do you want to be is an interesting question here. 


Do want to be the leader who is the lone  Superhero or a leader who makes many Superheroes out of your followers? 


Till we find an alternate, we will keep looking for gods in our bosses and our poor bosses will keep trying to maintain their superhero reputation. I pity the day I am to lead an organization, because the day your employees find out you are human, that’s the day you come crashing down.


Just remembered a few lines from the song “Superman” by Five for Fighting : 
“I’m only a man
In a funny red sheet
I’m only a man
Looking for a dream

And it’s not easy to be me”


But then again, as said in “Incredibles” the movie: “When everyone becomes a super then no one will be”


Food for thought??