Leading Like the God of Thunder

Leading Like the God of Thunder
Thomas Thompson
April 12, 2022
min read

Even Norse gods need to lead themselves well.  

In the Marvel movies, Thor, god of Thunder, takes the throne of Asgard after the death of his father. He leads out of the expectations of his people. And after the destruction of his kingdom and the loss of family and friends, Thor realizes he never wanted to be king. He is trapped leading out of who he is not. 

But then Thor gets a chance to travel back in time and talk with his mother, Frigga. In this time-bending reunion, the god of Thunder breaks down and cries, confessing that he feels like a failure. His mother responds with wisdom:

"Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be.
A measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are."

These are true words for Viking legends, and everyday leaders like you. 

We must lead out of who we are.  

As a young leader, I strove to imitate the leaders I admired. If I could lead like them, I would  have their impact. So, I listened to great speakers and practiced their speech patterns and  delivery. I devoured the hottest leadership books and used their principles. I attended  conferences and walked away with new vision and marching orders for my team. 

But I struggled. I found myself leading out of borrowed values, ones that I didn’t really hold. I  led out of borrowed wiring, copying behaviors that I was just not built to do. And I didn’t have  some of the passions and convictions of these leaders, because I had not gone through the  experiences they had. 

I was making a tactical error.

I thought by acting like other leaders, I would lead with their  power. But what I realized was: the power of these leaders came from within. Who they were shaped their leadership, not the other way around.  

  • How they were uniquely wired. 
  • The experiences and life lessons that crafted them. 
  • What they really valued and believed in their core.

By trying to replicate their behaviors, I was leading from the outside in, instead of the inside out.  I was failing at being someone I was not. 

Identity drives impact.

You have a unique opportunity to lead out of yourself. To lead from  who you are, what you believe, what you have learned. And while this may look different from  the expectations of the Asgardians around you, or the style of the king before you, it will ring  more authentically, more powerfully. Powerful leadership erupts out of people who understand  and embrace who they are. 

So where do you begin to understand who you are? 

1. What is your wiring?

What are your strengths, your weaknesses? What triggers you?  Where do you get energized? What drains you? Where do you find yourself falling into the  same patterns? What motivates you?

We all are uniquely driven by needs that often, we are  unaware of. When we start getting aware of who we are, we can adjust and lead how we are. 

2. How did you get here?

Looking back over your life, what are the highpoints and the  heartaches, the defining successes and failures? What are the learnings from these that are driven deep into your heart?

When we connect to the stories that have shaped us, we can tap into  deep reservoirs. We can lead with conviction that doesn’t come from a business course or a  leadership podcast. They aren’t borrowed experiences, they are yours. They have created you.  And in some cases, redirected the course of your life.  

3. What values do you cling to?

Not what you are supposed to believe. Not what your team or company expects you to value. But in your heart of hearts, what do YOU think? What  truths would you go to the mat for? What are the messages—true and even untrue—that are  directing the decisions you make?  

Adopting the wiring, experiences, and values of someone else is not the power play.  Understanding your identity, embracing that, and getting comfortable leading out of that, is.  

How about you?

If you find yourself failing at who you are supposed to be, why not begin succeeding at being who you are? Take a step of self-discovery into one of these questions today.

Thomas helps leaders navigate what’s next.  If he can serve you in this, reach out to him HERE.

Photo by Mateusz Wacławek on Unsplash

I founded Thompson Leadership to come alongside leaders like you. Together, we will unpack your unique leadership, unearth your biggest challenge, and create an action plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
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