Lessons from James Kirk

I am not sure if there is such a thing as a former Trekker, but the article Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk captured my attention. Since I was addicted to watching Star Trek growing up, I find the connection between the iconic character and leadership needs of any business very interesting.  If you watched Star Trek, the examples referenced will have a connection for you.  Even if you have not watched the program, this article touches on key leadership lessons.  As you reflect on the key points offered in the article, take time to consider how one can apply these lessons within your own organization.

For the Initiating Quick Starts and Preventative Fact Finders (refer to Kolbe www.kolbe.com ) here are the five lessons with some of my own personal thoughts:

  1. Never Stop Learning – knowledge is essential.  We need to constantly learn new ways of doing things.  Consider creative alternatives. Whether from formal or informal learning activities, we need to apply what we learn to every new experience.
  2. Have Advisors with Different World Views – A bunch of “yes men” on staff stifles creativity and innovation.  Consider Group Think (caused the Challenger disaster).  Group Think is when the desire to have harmony in a decision among a group overrides the realistic appraisal of alternatives in order to avoid conflict.  This is a structural fault and results in the loss of creativity and independent thinking.  World Views Additionally, consider Organizational Inertia (resource rigidity and routine rigidity), meaning an inability or continuing to use old patterns of logic that stifle a change in direction.  To simplify – drive the organization while looking through the rear view mirror.  “Hey, that is the way we do things…and have always done things, so we will continue to do it that way”.  “Let’s maintain the status quo.”  Can be common problem phrases.  This is also not PURPLE!
  3. Be Part of the Away Team – Takes risks and learn from them.  This is how you build a learning organization.  If ideas are not shared out of fear, or an ongoing pattern of people being ignored, then you shut down the engine that drives creative thought and open communication.  Refer to item #2.
  4. Play Poker, Not Chess – Play to the eye of the competitor and not the rules of circumstances.  Poker is all about understanding your competitor; it is not limited to the squares and strict rules much like a game of chess.  Know your circumstances in order to gamble, bluff and bet when appropriate.
  5. Blow up the Enterprise – Our passion may be about a particular product or service or a way of doing things but the reality is, times change.  Embark on a new path.  This reminds me of a concept called Break It Thinking.  If it is not broke, break it and make it better.

Sir Winston Churchill once said that  “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

From what lens are you seeing things?  How will you lead?