As companies emphasize process to accommodate growth, a key concern becomes what to do with one’s “heroes.” “Heroes” are those people in your company whom everyone depends on to fix things and get things done.

So what is the conflict between “heroes” and growth?

Here are three.

  1. “Heroes” are unable to be duplicated. Each “hero” occupies a unique place in the organization and naturally will defend that position. What they do makes them special and will not easily support efforts to “duplicate” their knowledge or experience.
  2. “Heroes” ultimately become bottlenecks. Since the “hero” is the only one who knows how to do what they do, the organization becomes singularly dependent upon them. The company may grow, but the “hero” only has the same two hands, so they will increasingly fall behind, or quality may suffer.
  3. Since “heroes” are the solution, they often don’t see the problem. Situations the “hero” can fix are not recognized as problems, by the “hero.” However, business growth requires processes that will keep the problem from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, the same attributes that make a “hero” a “hero” make them less effective at recognizing the problem or being able to resolve them in processes.

“Heroes” will require individual, and well-deserved, attention as the business goes through the changes needed to allow the organization to scale. Know the change is the greatest for your “heroes.” It will require careful and frequent communication, involvement, and coaching to give them the best opportunity to make the transition. Unfortunately, in my experience less than half of them succeed.

Plus if you don’t carefully manage your “heroes,” it will be natural for them not to genuinely buy-in and may even fight the change. If this happens, you may find yourself in the ironic position of your “heroes” becoming “arsonists.” Setting “fires” that compromise change efforts, often only to merely feel needed.

As an executive has led multiple companies through this transition, I can help you. Coaching is especially useful when provided for both leadership and the “heroes.”

Contact me and let’s talk.


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

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