Do You Have a Leadership Avatar?

On September 13, 2011, in Blog, Leadership Development, by Christine Glasco

The word Avatar {from} Sanskrit means “descent” and is most often translated into English as “appearance” or “manifestation”.[1]

In the last few years, the use of an Avatar has become very popular in the virtual universe. While I am not a gamer, I always thought that if I were to ever use an Avatar, I would design a combination  Wonder Woman; Phoenix-Rising-From-The-Ashes; Merlin, John C. Maxwell; Marshall Goldsmith; Theodore Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, King George VI of Great Britain, Colin Powell persona that:

  • Would be infused with a more than healthy portion of the leadership competencies I already possess;
  • Would also possess those leadership strengths that I have yet to fully acquire and
  • Would possess none of my weaknesses.

I would also want my Avatar to be a strategic, visionary leader (what a surprise!).

As I was looking at the origin of the word and checking other references, I wondered what qualities and traits would best describe the ideal leadership Avatar.  As I played a brainstorming game with myself, I finally theorized that there could not be a one-of-a-kind (best) leadership Avatar, because each of our organization’s needs, company cultures, customer or client needs, business turnaround/innovation requirements, employee and peer teams bench strength development plans and critical business performance success factors – all of these data points and characteristics would be different based on the particular historical context of the organization.

The selected leadership Avatar would have to ‘appear’ and truly ‘manifest’ the best of the best strategic leadership characteristics while also having the leadership agility to contextually align with the organization’s backstory.

Isn’t this really the leadership talent $64,000 question?  With the news last week of increased CEO and senior leadership team turnover, in-place executives may need to exhibit new competencies just to keep their seats.  In other words, they may need to have a superhuman Avatar at the ready.

How can you acquire the right leadership Avatar-type characteristics to meet your company’s needs to: accurately predict the end of the recession, apply soothsayer knowledge to determine the next presidential election result and to use wise woman discernment to be a winner in the hiring/talent acquisition wars to come?

First, recognize that this is a new economic playing field where millions of Americans have been out of work for years while they watched more and more jobs moving off-shore.  Second, consider how and when your competitors might begin to spend the $2.76 trillion war chest currently held by S&P 500 companies.  Lastly, think of the leadership needs and the leadership skills crisis that may be present in your company today.  Where will the next leader show up who is capable of communicating and inspiring a company whose employees no longer trust the ‘system’, company leadership, their bankers, their mortgage lenders and the politicos in the Democratic, Republican and Tea Party camps. What type of Avatar do you need to manage today’s complex world?

In the 2009 science fiction blockbuster movie Avatar, a paraplegic Marine, Jake Sully, is sent to Pandora on a mission.  Jake’s on-Pandora Avatar has none of the physical challenges that his real self has on earth.  Instead, Jake’s on-Pandora Avatar has new (unimagined, unplanned – and thus no playbook responses) crisis of conscience challenges.

Unfortunately, no one promised that being able use a leadership Avatar when needed was going to solve all of our company’s or our country’s leadership problems.

Questions for you to consider:

  • Do you need a leadership Avatar?
  • What additional characteristics and competencies does your leadership Avatar need to possess?
  • What unimagined (today’s) challenges might your leadership Avatar face in the future?

[1] The Avatar I selected for my website is the Fleur-de-lis: the three leaves represent the medieval social classes- those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed.

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Christine M. Glasco consults to company executives, business owners and non-profit leaders on career management/career transformation strategies and strategic leadership development solutions. To provide you with clarity on how to achieve the next steps in your career, go to and request a complimentary copy of Is Your Career on Track? Assessment and e-Workbook

Email: Phone: 1.940.367.0837

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2 Responses to Do You Have a Leadership Avatar?

  1. Jen Sako says:

    I admire your process of finding your avatar. Now you have a story behind it that you can share with others. Fantastic marketing tool!

  2. Thanks for the comment. Whenever I work with clients, I ask them who they admire and why. I also ask them to develop data points of leadership competencies. Having them think through the competencies they need now and in future helps us build a leadership blueprint.

    Have you thought about your Avatar? Who or what is it?

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