May the Force of Business Leadership be with you!
Decisive yet inclusive leadership is an integral and vital aspect of any upbeat and engaging business culture! With Star Wars Day officially upon us, we highlight 5 valuable leadership lessons we’ve learned from the world’s best-loved sci-fi franchise, and show you how to use the force of communication, commitment, teamwork and critical thinking to the betterment of your business!
1. Don't stray to the dark side of organisational management
Just like with ever-present force amongst the Jedi and Sith Lords of Star Wars, there is a good and dark side to management. Just look at the difference between the empire and the rebellion. Where Darth Vader and Kylo Ren often use force and intimidation to command their armies, Leia Organa leads the rebellion by engaging directly with the leaders of the resistance - continuously asking for feedback on how to best further the cause.
Although hierarchy and a chain of command used to be commonly associated with managerial structures, innovative businesses are now embracing a more progressive corporate culture that promotes working as a team in sharing ideas, contributing towards productivity and yielding positive results. While a manager should still be in place, their job is to ultimately empower their team to be self driven and hungry for success, rather than dictate and micro manage projects.
For this reason, you should establish trust and two-way communication within your team - empowering each individual to take pride and ownership over their own responsibilities. This in turn creates employees who are both proud and motivated to represent the organisation at large.
2. Don't let emotions cloud your judgement
We saw this unhappy story play out in Anakin Skywalker, who became so consumed by his emotions that he ended up hurting and alienating those who were once closest to him, thus resulting in a dark ripple effect that ultimately saw his own demise.
Although emotional intelligence is vital to building relationships and navigating through the more sensitive or delicate of social interactions at the office, it can sometimes be all too easy for our emotions – especially cognitive biases – to cloud our reasonable judgement. For this reason, it’s important for leaders to practice self control and critical thinking, thus ensuring that they are acting on the best available evidence and data and within the best interests of team productivity, rather than their own ego.
Great leaders are communicative and solicit feedback from the people around them. As such, they test their results against objective metrics to ensure that the team is heading in the right direction.
3. Approach tasks with success in mind
One of the most valuable nuggets of advice that Yoda gave to Luke was: "Do or do not. There is no try." Although it’s unrealistic to expect success from every endeavour, it's a good idea to approach tasks with a confident and assured mind set. “Self assurance is contagious, so when a leader demonstrates confidence and assertiveness, they in turn perpetuate these qualities within their team, regardless of how difficult or challenging a situation might be,” says Michael Quinn, Divisional Manager for Search Accountancy & Finance.
Research shows that when people are thrown into situations where they are expected to fail, their performance will often plummet. However, when they're expected to win, their performance shoots back up. For this reason, it's important to approach tasks with good expectations for both yourself and your team, without prematurely setting yourself up for failure. That being said, balance is also important, and over-confidence bordering on inflated ego – much like Anakin’s boastful approach to wielding the force – will not do your team any favours!
4. Believe in your cause
When kick-starting a brand new venture or leading a team for the first time, there may not be much experience to guide you. In those cases, you'll have to listen to some advice that Obi-Wan Kenobi gave to Luke Skywalker: "Let go your conscious self and act on instinct." You need to trust that everything you have learned has guided you to this point, and has given you the strength you need to make the next leap. In order to achieve this, it is important to establish a common goal within your team, and inspire each individual to contribute their strengths towards materialising the desired results. “When leading a team, it is absolutely crucial to be assertive and establish a clear plan of what you are aiming to achieve. Although your goal may never get realised 100 percent, at least you and your team will have a clear vision of what the objectives are, and thus generate consistent productivity,” says James Macbeth, Search Divisional Manager for Driving & Logistics.
5. Teamwork is crucial for success
Although we all love the dashing rogue of the galaxy, Han Solo – and he certainly knows it – we must also remember how Luke and Leia helped him escape from the grim confines of a frozen, carbonated, metal alloy. A good leader knows how to give credit where it is due, without greedily basking in the glory. While leaders may use their experience and foresight to advise their team and delegate work processes, they must always remember that without the support of their team, they would not yield successful results. Just like how the galaxy was not saved by one Jedi alone, a project would never materialise without a team to productively move things along.
And on that note, may the force be with you!
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