Captain James T. Kirk is one of the most famous Captains in the history of Starfleet. He saved the Earth several times, stopped the Doomsday Machine, helped negotiate peace with the Klingon Empire, kept the balance of power between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, and even managed to fight Nazis. On his five-year mission commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise, as well as subsequent commands, James T. Kirk was a quintessential leader, who led his crew into the unknown and continued to succeed time and time again.
Here are five of the key leadership lessons that we can take away from Captain Kirk:
1. Never stop learning
The more knowledge we have, the more creative we can be.
2. Have advisors with different world views
Kirk’s closest two advisors are Commander Spock, a Vulcan committed to a philosophy of logic, and Dr. Leonard McCoy, a human driven by compassion and scientific curiosity. They both have different world views. Organizations that allow for differences of opinion are better at developing innovation, better at solving problems, and better at avoiding groupthink. We all need a McCoy and a Spock in our lives and organizations.
3. Be part of the away team
Leaders sometimes have to be part of Away Team missions, missions where the team has to act without the leader and where the leader has to trust the own crew
4. Play Poker, not Chess
Bluffs, tells, and bets are all a big part of real-life strategy. We cannot always play chess in life.
5. Blow up the Enterprise
There will come a time when it no longer makes sense to pursue the own passion. When that happens, no matter how painful it is, we need to blow up the Enterprise. That is, change what isn’t working and embark on a new path, even if that means having to live in a Klingon ship for awhile.
What we may learn:
- We need to keep exploring and learning.
- We need to ensure that we encourage creativity and innovation by listening to the advice of people with different opinions.
- We need to occasionally get down in the trenches with the members of our teams so we understand their needs and earn their trust and loyalty.
- We need to understand the psychology of our competitors and also learn to radically change course when circumstances dictate.
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(Image via Wikipedia)