What’s your superpower? Perhaps you have more than one. Maybe you have a long list of them.

But somewhere in the mix there are a couple must-haves. If you don’t know what they are, I’ll give you a hint: speaking well is not one of them.

I listened to a conversation this Monday between Van Jones, CNN political commentator and veritable change-maker and Wes Hall, entrepreneur, and founder of Canada’s Black North Initiative.

Van Jones was on fire. He shared political insights, his views on race relations and dispensed advice on the new, necessary superpowers that will not only change the way you lead but improve your life.

Apparently, being able to speak well or present well is the old superpower. No panic if you are a super orator, it’s still useful, but it’s just not a superpower.

What’s the new one? The one that unlocks the door to great partnerships, innovation, mega-deals, marketing campaigns and more?

Being Able to Listen Well.

According to Van Jones, given the diversity around us with different voices, cultures and perspectives, any leader who wants to grow their business must be able to listen well to all. If they don’t, they may be missing out and leaving money on the table.

We especially need to listen to the voices that have been stifled or unheard. Also, listening is a skill that needs to trickle all the way throughout and be part of the culture. Show me any breakdown in any system or relationship and we can trace it back to the point where someone stopped listening.

That system or relationship could be in the home, the classroom, or the boardroom. Listening is an act of love – see my blog post on this subject.

But he said that listening is not enough. You also need the new superpower mindset:


Empathy is essential to building more inclusive communities and workplaces. Especially in this pandemic, it is perhaps the most important leadership skill to hone. To understand different people and collaborate successfully with them, you must be able to see things from their perspective. Read here for more on what empathy does for you and how to cultivate it.

For good measure, here’s a bonus superpower:

Knowing when to ask for help.

My son Aris drops nuggets of wisdom on me all the time. Last week he said, “Mom, it’s great to be independent but sometimes you should be dependent and let others help you.” Good for him. He’s helping with the laundry today. Maybe he will cook dinner too.

On a serious note. Asking for help is a valuable skill. Playing hero isn’t smart. It’s lonely, and you either get less done or you burn yourself out. Letting others help you is key to being able to do more and do it better.

Early in my career while was I working in Jamaica, I landed a new role where I was assigned to lead a project. My manager asked me to include a risk assessment. I wasn’t sure which template to use but I hesitated to ask. I mean, isn’t this why they hired me? Because I know stuff?

So, I pulled something together. When I sat in the room with the Exec going through the presentation, they drew a blank when they looked at the slide with my risk assessment. Clearly it wasn’t what they had expected.

My manager asked me right there, “Who helped you with this?”

“No-one,” I said.

“But why didn’t you ask for help? I would never have expected you to tackle this on your own.”

I called the lead Risk manager. He popped into the session and led a comprehensive risk assessment.

Boy, did I ever learn a lot.

I had pressured myself to have all the answers and do everything on my own to make an impression in my new role – pull together a kick-ass plan with all the research and a comprehensive risk assessment too. How ridiculous was that!

No-one expects you to know everything. But they do expect you to know when to ask for help. People aren’t waiting to trip you up and you won’t be ‘found out’ as lacking. That’s your imposter syndrome having a party with your inner critic. Disinvite yourself.

Instead, believe that help is always out there ready and waiting for you if you simply ask.

Is it time to step back and check your superpowers to ensure these are on your list?

  1. Listen well
  2. Have empathy
  3. Know when to ask for help

No sweat if you are missing any; start building that muscle today.

Thank you for stopping by. Leave a comment and let me know what’s your superpower! Visit again soon, subscribe and share. I post new content each week. © Arlene Amitirigala 2021. All Rights Reserved.                            

2 thoughts on “The new superpowers that you need right now

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