Chris J Powell

Lessons in Leadership from Episodes of Star Trek

It is funny how Fate seems to bring things to me that I just discussed at work the day previously.  My boss had asked me to assist one of his clients in his absence yesterday and when he returned he affectionately called me Mr. Data. “If I need to run heavy computational analysis…just like Jean Luc I turn to my Mr. Data!”  I take that as a real compliment as a pretty heavy Trekker but then I woke up a little late this morning and realized I did not have a topic.

As I do from time to time I find it best to pull a great bullet point post and rework the descriptions a bit.  I chose 8 Leadership And Management Lessons Onboard The Starship Enterprise  as my inspiration today mainly because it was very well crafted.  Author Elish Bul-Godley did a fantastic job but as I do…I am Krispifying the work…just a little.

# 1. “To Boldly Go where No One has Gone Before”

Sometimes the most obvious is staring us right in the face.  Life has a tendency to expect us to stand still and wait for it to catch up to us or on the opposite spectrum, it is like a run away train expecting us to move at break neck speeds trying to stop the inevitable train wreck from happening.

The statement was a constant reminder for all the crew but more importantly a reminder to us all to look to the uncharted waters with a sense of wonder and adventure.  Step out of our comfort zone and experience all the wonders that life has for us.

# 2. “To Seek New Life and New Civilizations”

For anyone who has ever spent time abroad this is a key component to growth and development.  Speaking as someone who has barely left the comfort of a 250 Kilometer comfort zone his entire life this is something that I have promised to my daughter and I still work for the opportunity to take a 6 month sabbatical to Africa to completely immerse myself in another culture and truly learn to appreciate the genetic lottery that I won by being born in Canada.

# 3. Be Part of the Away Team Sometimes

This has always been a litmus test for leadership for me.  Both my parents were lead from the front kind of  people that while they had senior leadership roles they still were not afraid to grunt it out in the trenches and prove what got them to the position that they had.  To most, achieving a Leadership Role means that you never have to look back at what got you there but with the popularity of shows like “Undercover Boss” (Fridays 8/7c on CBS) elude to a need for leaders to more actively roll up their sleeves and make things happen with the rest of the rank and file.  Besides, you can’t always send the Ensign off to die on an away mission!

# 4. The Enterprise has a Self Destruct Button

Knowing that the Enterprise could at any time start the count down and blow the ship and crew into oblivion must have been a huge weight to be carried but as the original article points out, the Captain knew that:

  •  it will be for the greater cause and
  •  a new Enterprise will soon take its place.

So if that is the case then what can we take away in a Krispy format?  Well in life holding on to a plan, project, process or concept to tightly fails to enable the organization to flourish.  No Strategy survives first contact with the Enemy and that should be the case both on the battlefield and in the boardroom.  Realize that the team that has been built either by you or for you is capable of great things and are very adaptable!

# 5. “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations”

Only superseded by the popular Vulcan Tenet “Live Long and Prosper,” this should be a rallying point for leaders.  The reality is that everything from Data to People to Ideas come in an unparallelled diversity and the recognition of this and the acceptance of it ensures that the sum of the parts shall always equal more than the whole!

# 6. The Prime Directive

The Prime Directive held more than one episode of Start Trek to a higher ethical standard than what we would think possible with our own current set of “National Priorities”.  As stated as the Star Fleet General Order #1

The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations.

So to apply a bit of this to the daily lives…for leaders it is important to remember that it is often better to observe from afar than to apply constant pressure and interference.  Trust that the future will come whether you are in it or not!

# 7. Red Alert and Battle Stations

While the main mission of all the Enterprise Starships were for exploration, they were at their core, Warships.  Each crew on every iteration of the venerable Enterprise would operate with keen efficiency the second that the Red Lights and the call over comes of “Battle Stations” would sound.  For leaders out their…is there a real option and ability for you team to narrow that focus and operate with the efficiency and precision that is required with Everything hits the fan and you need to call Red Alert?

# 8. The “Kobayashi Maru Test”

For each Star Fleet Academy Graduate, they were faced with a No-Win Situation and asked to play through the role to better develop the core leadership capability within them to take on the challenges of being a Star Fleet Officer.  Do you put your future leaders through a test that has no right or wrong answer?  No option to Win or because of that to Lose?  Do you look to that Kobayash Maru Test as a way of confidence building or do you send new leaders out like Lambs to the Slaughter?

For a fairly simple topic I can’t believe that I meandered on like this.  Make sure you read the original article and be kind and leave a few comments over there too.

As a parting gift “Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end.” Spock


Chris J Powell

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