Lead where no leader (in your organization) has gone before

I’m a Star Trek fan from way back. So when a Forbes article promises “five key leadership lessons that you can take away from Captain Kirk as you pilot your own organization into unknown futures,” I’m on board. You’ll want to beam the article up, but in the meantime, here are the five points in short form.

  1. Never stop learning. Kirk’s reputation at the Academy was that of a “walking stack of books” and a passion for learning helped him through several missions. The take away: Knowledge is your best key to overcoming whatever obstacles are in your way.
  2. Have advisors with different world views. Weak leaders surround themselves with yes men (and women) who are afraid to argue with them. We all need a McCoy and a Spock in our lives and organizations. The take away: Leaders that encourage differences of opinion are more innovation, better at solving problems, and less likely to fall victim to group-think.
  3. Be part of the away team.Kirk was very much a hands-on leader, out in front of his crew as they explored interesting and dangerous situations. The take away: Unless you’re out there with your team, you risk losing their trust. Very soon, they’re griping about how you don’t understand the troubles they’re facing.
  4. Play poker, not chess. It was knowledge of his opponent that allowed Kirk to defeat his enemy Khan by exploiting his two-dimensional thinking. Bluffs, tells, and bets are all a big part of real-life strategy. The take away: Playing with an eye to the psychology of your competitors, not just the rules and circumstances of the game,  can lead to better outcomes. It’s important to know when to fold ’em, know when to hold ’em, and know when to walk away.
  5. Blow up the Enterprise. One recurring theme in the original Star Trek series is that Kirk’s first love is the Enterprise, yet there came a point when he blew up the ship to save the crew. The take away: Despite what we’ve been told, sometimes the better part of valor is knowing when to let go. There’s no shame in abandoning ship if it means the organization will live to sail another day.

By following these five lesson from the intrepid Captain Kirk, you can lead your organization to brave new worlds of effectiveness.  So grab your mission and soar.

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