Leadership Lessons from Star Wars
This was funny, and insightful. It discusses five leadership mistakes embodied by the Galactic Empire in Star Wars.
Here’s a key part:
Mistake #2: Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.
By consolidating his power, the Emperor didn’t just ensure that his organization wouldn’t survive his death. He also deprived a key motivation for both his employees and the public-at-large: a feeling of having a stake in the success of the organization. The Emperor disbanded the Galactic Senate, removing the idea of any democratic stake in the government. He wiped out all references to the Force, so there was no longer any guiding ideology. His sole idea for maintaining control of the Empire was building the Death Star, on the theory that, in the words of Grand Moff Tarkin, “Fear will keep the local systems in line. Fear of this battle station.” Similarly, while in the first Star Wars film, there was a scene showing officers in the Imperial Navy discussing strategy, byReturn of the Jedi, it was clear that no feedback was being solicited anymore. The Emperor or Vader gave orders and that was it. No further discussion.
But as was ably demonstrated in this exchange in the movie Office Space, this is the worst possible way to get the best work out of your employees. Fear, combined with a sense of powerlessness, only inspires the bare minimum amount of work:
Peter Gibbons: You see, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.
Bob Porter: Don’t- don’t care?
Peter Gibbons: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s another thing, I have eight different bosses right now.
Bob Porter: Eight?
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
Key Takeaway: In order to get the best work out of people in your organization, you need to solicit their feedback, engage them in the decision-making process, and ensure that they have a stake in the success of the organization.
Is your organization led like the Galactic Empire?