While delving into my inner Trekkie, I came across a few Forbes articles that appealed to my inner manager as well. For the benefit of all, here is the first of (hopefully) many leadership tips from the sci-fi/fantasy world:
Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk
- Never Stop Learning
- You know the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there’s no such thing as the unknown– only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.
2. Have Advisors With Different Worldviews
- One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.
3. Be Part of the Away Team
- Risk is our business. That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.
4. Play Poker, Not Chess
- Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?
5. Blow up the Enterprise
- ‘All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’ You could feel the wind at your back in those days. The sounds of the sea beneath you, and even if you take away the wind and the water it’s still the same. The ship is yours. You can feel her. And the stars are still there, Bones.
Schumpeter was a family friend of the Druckers (both Peter and his father Adolph visited him on New Year's Day 1950, eight days prior to Schumpeter's death) and consequently was a major influence on Peter Drucker's theories of management. In order to remain relevant and beneficial to society, organizations had to be entrepreneurial and innovative. As astutely told by Forbes, "One recurring theme in the original Star Trek series is that Kirk’s first love is the Enterprise...[I]t’s hinted that his love for the ship kept him from forming any real relationships or starting a family. Despite that love, though, there came a point in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, where Captain Kirk made a decision that must have pained him enormously – in order to defeat the Klingons attacking him and save his crew, James Kirk destroyed the Enterprise. The occasion, in the film, was treated with the solemnity of a funeral, which no doubt matched Kirk’s mood. The film ends with the crew returning to Vulcan on a stolen Klingon vessel, rather than the Enterprise. But they returned victorious."
In conclusion, Captain/Admiral James T. Kirk of the starship USS Enterprise taught and demonstrated numerous lessons to leaders galaxy-wide:
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 vastly 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. By following these lessons, we can lead our organizations into places where none have gone before.
1. See Rosabeth Moss Kanter, "What Would Peter Say?" Harvard Business Review (Nov. 2009); Karen E. Linkletter, Joseph A. Maciariello, "Genealogy of a Social Ecologist," Journal of Management History 15:4 (2009).