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A Call for Heroic Leadership

Leaders must embark on heroic levels of adventure to create real change.

As a leadership consultant, I often use a writing tool called the Hero’s Journey* to explain the epic adventures that await leaders as they tackle tough challenges and opportunities and achieve greatness for their organizations.

Imagine having unshakable self-confidence, unwavering optimism, and exceptional personal magnetism. Imagine performing at the upper limits of your potential, proving yourself strong and courageous. That’s what Heroic Leadership is all about.

Gone are the days when leaders could simply plan and execute their way to success. The challenges leaders face are growing exponentially – radical change, rapid innovation, mergers, toxic workplace cultures, and more. As a result, leaders need to become game-changers themselves.

I believe leaders must be willing to embark on heroic levels of adventure if they are to make significant positive change in this upside-down world that demands organizational transformation (think DuPont and IBM), innovation (think Apple, Kahn Academy, and GM), and culture change (think Southwest Airlines and UPS).

Over the next few months, I will be mapping the various stages of the Hero’s Journey to show you how you can embark upon a journey of creating a better world for your team, organization, or community.

Stay tuned for more on each of the phases of the Hero’s Journey and a self-assessment that will help you determine your heroic leadership readiness. For now, here is a brief overview of how the Hero’s Journey plays out in business and professional life:

Phase I – The Call

The leader realizes the need for a change that is connected to his deeply held values and beliefs and personal aspirations.

Phase II – Resistance to the Call and Meeting the Mentors

The leader encounters enough self-doubt and naysayer pushback to begin second-guessing about answering the Call. However, an encounter with a sage mentor help reinstate the leader’s faith.

Phase III – The Threshold Crossing

The leader musters the courage to begin his Heroic Journey. His optimism and clarity of purpose compel others to join in on the quest. There is no turning back.

Phase IV – The Journey

The leader and his committed followers embark on an adventurous course fraught with peril and setbacks, but also ripe with great leaps forward.

Phase V – The Supreme Ordeal and Victory

The leader faces a moment of near-death that almost (but doesn’t) end his journey, followed by a re-birth and eventual Victory.

Phase VI – The Return Home

With Victory secured, the leader is transformed, and so is his world. By the end of this epic adventure, the leader and followers have learned how to operate at the upper ranges of their potentials. They have transcended the everyday to a new level of high performance and success.

* In his study of world hero myths, mythologist Joseph Campbell discovered that most, if not all, follow the same predictable story arc, what he called the Hero’s Journey. For more information, see his nominal text, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.


Dr. Kathy Cramer has written seven best-selling books including Change The Way You See Everything, which started the ABT Global Movement. Her latest book, Lead Positive shows leaders how to increase their effectiveness through her revolutionary yet refreshing simple mindset management process, Asset-Based Thinking. Download her Speaker Kit here.

To read more of Kathy’s thought leadership, visit and Follow Kathy on Twitter at @drkathycramer.

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