How Batman Turns His Greatest Fear Into His Biggest Strength
Bruce Wayne by day, Batman by night. Find out how Bruce Wayne uses his childhood trauma and phobia to his advantage to be the superhero we know and love today.
Published 03 Aug 2018
It’s not every day that you get a crime-fighting superhero drop by your office for a chat – but the Leaderonomics team recently found itself in the presence of one of the greatest.
Fresh from beating up the bad guys of Gotham City, the Dark Knight took time out of his busy schedule to chat with host Roshan Thiran on The Leaderonomics Show about what it takes to succeed and be the best.
With a tragic childhood that involved witnessing the murder of his parents, Batman talked about the necessity of using your difficulties as motivators to develop and grow beyond the limitations that would otherwise hold you back.
Ironically, Gotham’s favourite son revealed that he developed a fear of bats as a child after falling into a well while playing with a friend.
He revealed to Roshan, “I was scared and traumatised by that experience. I realised that my greatest fear could be my biggest weakness or it could be my biggest strength. So, by harnessing the bat, by making myself the bat, I become the fear that I then instil into others.”
Discussing his continuous success with Wayne Enterprises (no thanks to Roshan for blowing Batman’s cover!), Batman spoke about the importance of placing trust around the people you hire as a leader, and how they can help your organisation to flourish if you give them the room to do what they do best.
When asked what lies at the heart of Wayne Enterprises, Batman replied, “It comes down to my research and development team, to Lucius Fox who is always thinking about new innovations whether it’s developing the incredibly powerful Batmobile, the Batwing, or the Batsuit. Everything is designed to make me the best crime fighter I can be.”
“There is no secret sauce for success: it’s hard work, it’s the fact that we’re successful in other ventures. We’ve made money over the years, and we’re then able to channel that into things we really care about.”
Secure bases and role models
The crime-fighting crusader also touched on the importance of having the right people by your side to guide you. In any kind of leadership, it’s crucial to have a trusted inner circle that can guide you in decision-making and setting out a vision.
One of Batman’s most trusted employees is his long-time butler, Alfred J. Pennyworth, who became the young man’s guardian after his parents’ untimely deaths.
Why do we fall, Sir? … So we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Alfred in Batman Begins (2005)
Alfred’s influence on Batman over the years is clearly appreciated by the caped crusader, who speaks so fondly about his occasionally belligerent butler. “To have the incredible guiding force in Alfred is really great. He’s such a calm presence. He was there to build me up and make me the man I am today. He’s one of my most trusted people – he’s always there for me and continues to show me the way.”
In leadership, having a solid team behind you is essential to ensure that everyone works in alignment to achieve shared objectives and goals. And while none of Batman’s employees directly fight crime, he is quick to praise the commitment of his long-standing team members who enable him to do what he does best.
But it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you. – Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins
“Many have been there for a very long time; they worked for my father and continue to work for me now. You need to put your faith in your most loyal people and recognise that these are the guys who’ve been there right from the beginning – these are the guys with the know-how.
“Once in a while, you need to bring in some fresh blood as well. As part of my ongoing efforts to fight corruption and crime, we take a lot of kids off the street and put them in internship programmes at Wayne Enterprises. We’re doing a lot for the community in Gotham.”
In a nutshell
The most interesting aspect of Batman’s story is best summed up in the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”
It’s evidently clear that much of Batman’s triumphs over the evil of Gotham is as much down to the collective effort of his team behind the scenes as it is to his own courage. Certainly, the caped crusader’s success so far demonstrates one of the golden rules of leadership: you can only ever be as great as the people you choose to surround yourself with.
A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended. – Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012)