Is your corporate hero stressed out and overwhelmed?

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This post is part of a series exploring the archetypical successful employee: the corporate hero. This archetype, whether real or perceived, heavily influences the behaviors of today’s workforce. In this series, we will push against our limiting beliefs of what it means to be an employee, how to break away from the status quo and rid ourselves of inherited behaviors that no longer serve us, what allows us to thrive at work and in life, and how to design the conditions of the workplace in support of a new type of corporate hero. 

Recent post: Imagine a new model for employee success and performance

The collective habits of your employees shape the culture of your organization. If your corporate hero archetype reflects the status quo, then it's likely that your most successful employees are stressed out and overwhelmed. I wrote this post to help you reflect on your current vs. desired corporate hero archetypes.

What is the Traditional Corporate Hero Archetype?

Car company Cadillac aired a commercial during the Academy Awards featuring a monologue about the “American Dream.” An actor made to look like a successful and wealthy corporate executive extols the virtues of “hard work, American style”—elevating those persons who have worked themselves into the ground and have taken as little time off as possible. The ad says, “Americans work hard because that’s what they love to do.”

And it’s not only Americans that suffer from this perception of the corporate hero -- employees all over the world feel the tension of this work/life struggle. 

This commercial has received an untold amount of backlash, yet one is left wondering if this idea of the successful executive or corporate “hero” is, in fact, in alignment with perceptions of the typical workforce that working harder (instead of smarter) and time management (not energy management) is what leads to success.

The traditional corporate “hero” is no stranger to stress.

Overloading with work, taking on more than one person can handle, coming in early and staying late, all while ignoring your personal needs in favor for what is best for the company—these are the characteristics of the traditional corporate hero, a person who exists in the minds and imaginations of workers around the world.

Yet, all the resulting stress and hours spent working to become this type of hero leads to disengagement and ineffective performance at work, as well as poor levels of health and wellbeing.

How can the conventional corporate “hero” archetype be rewritten when employees—either consciously or subconsciously—still believe that the traditional archetype is what is required for career success?

This perceived social barrier could be overcome with a simple redesign of what it means to be in service to an organization’s greater purpose, and to be personally successful.

Reimagine + redefine what it means to be a corporate “hero.”

Inherited Mindsets + Behaviors: The Status Quo

First thing's first. Take some time to reflect on the status quo -- what are the attributes, mindsets and behaviors that your current (real or perceived) corporate hero embodies? 

Think about what it takes to get ahead at your company – what sacrifices do your people make in service to their work?

Do they miss time with family and friends?

Are they on the road a lot?

Do they sacrifice personal relationships?

Are they stressed about finances?

What is getting in the way of their health, happiness and security?

Take a moment to reflect on which of the behaviors your employees practice that get in the way of their wellbeing. 

Write them down.

A New Corporate Hero Archetype

Now think about what it means to thrive in your organization. 

Reimagine a new type of corporate hero –- one that practices the positive habits of health, happiness and security in service to contributing to your organization’s success.

It can be helpful to start from your own perspective when considering what it means to thrive in your organization.

What do you need to thrive at work (and in life)?

It could be time and space for critical thinking, appreciation or recognition from peers, ability to work flexible hours, trust and open communication, continued learning and growth, permission and encouragement to engage in physical activities and self-care, purposeful work, helping others, safety, etc.

Which positive behaviors could this new corporate hero model for others?

Write them down.

I hope you found this exercise helpful in considering your current and desired corporate hero archetype. If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it with your network so others can discover it too!

Also, feel free to reach out directly if you'd like to discuss how to shift this model within your organization: