I helped a direct report get out of “Hero” mode

Nicholas Clark

CTO / Founder at Divvy Homes



As companies grow, each person's impact becomes siloed. The ones who have been at the company from the beginning usually have a good general global knowledge of their company's products and end up saving the day when problems occur. I had one of these "Hero" employees in my team. He was one of the first five engineers hired by the company and could solve anything. This was his default mode. He wanted to grow, yet struggled with getting out of the "Hero" situation, and was on call every day.

Actions taken

I remembered the saying "Unless you hire your replacement, you'll keep doing the same job". The first thing I did was give him opportunities to grow. He was a great hacker, one of the early stage startup employees who just wanted to help the business. We were launching a relatively new product at the time and offered him the opportunity to work in that new team. We then needed to fill in the space that was left empty by him moving to the new team. To do so, we settled on a smooth transition that would include new hires and training orchestrated by him.

Lessons learned

I tend to believe that most "Heroes" do not act like that purely based on their ego. Most of them end up in "Hero" situations as a result of bad onboarding and insufficient training. These people are usually extremely skilled and valuable, so as a manager it's your role to spot when a "Hero" situation is occurring and it's your role to guide them out of it, by offering them new opportunities and training or hiring a replacement.

"Unless you hire your replacement, you'll keep doing the same job."

"Most 'Heroes' do not act like that purely based on their ego."

Be notified about next articles from Nicholas Clark

Nicholas Clark

CTO / Founder at Divvy Homes

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyCulture DevelopmentEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionSkill Development

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBountiesBecome a mentor

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up