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Captain On The Bridge

3 Leadership Lessons from Captain James T Kirk

As I was researching for a different project, I ran across some James T. Kirk quotes that just spoke to me. So, please forgive the second blog in a row to feature quotes – I simply couldn’t resist. One of the reasons I have a blog is because I enjoy writing and like to have fun with it, so this is me having fun. If you are in the mood for something a little more serious, visit Making that Fateful Decision – my post about choosing which political race is right for you. If you feel like having a little fun, read on and enjoy!

Surround yourself with diverse, passionate people

"One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it."

-Captain James T. Kirk

Kirk had two close advisors during his adventures through the galaxies, Dr. McCoy, a human doctor and Commander Spock, a Vulcan. While The Doctor fueled his decisions with compassion for others and pure scientific curiosity, The Commander was all logic, all the time. Kirk would listen to both of their opinions and take into consideration their usually differing points of view. Then, there was usually one of three outcomes to this process – he would go with one or the other, or – he would morph the two, combine it with some wisdom or experience of his own, and come up with a completely original idea.

The Captain is demonstrating that he is open to new ideas, eager and ready to

find the best solution – even if it isn’t his. A strong leader creates an atmosphere of collaboration and inclusion – thus allowing the entire team to believe in the WHY. A team that fosters this culture of creativity and cooperation while keeping this WHY in mind can solve problems and come up with innovative solutions. By surrounding yourself with strong, diverse, passionate people, you allow your organization to thrive.

Learn from your mistakes – and move on

“Genius doesn’t work on an assembly line basis. You can’t simply say, ‘Today I will be brilliant.'”

- Captain James T. Kirk

Kirk lived, worked and played in a starship, traveling through the final frontier (space) exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life. He understood that he and his team may not always get it right. They may make mistakes – not only in protocol, but in decision making. Trusting the tribbles simply because of their outward appearances, for instance, not a genius moment. But, by trusting his team, himself and their ability to redirect and change course when the circumstances demanded made his leadership flexible and human.

Having just started an internet marketing campaign, I can relate to this personally. As the leader of my own company, High Ground Coaching and Development, I have had to accept that old human trait we all have of not being perfect. Was my first live video on Facebook one for the books – no way! Was my first newsletter incredible and causing the cable news networks to schedule me on their shows – thank goodness, no! But, as my coach and mentor says, “Any decision is better than no decision”. What I must trust, as the leader, is that I know when something is working and when it isn’t. Once that has been established, you can move forward or move in another direction – just keep moving!

Listen to your gut

“Intuition, however illogical, is recognized as a command prerogative.”

- Captain James T. Kirk

One thing that made Kirk a success repeatedly in dealing with difficult and unknown situations was his ability to listen to and follow his intuition. While he would often have Commander Spock in one ear touting the logical solutions, if his gut told him he needed to react in a certain way, he would. These were often decisions that had to be made quickly and that, in a moment, could change the trajectory of the entire crew. These were the times that the USS Enterprise was most proud of their Captain. He could stare into the face of danger and make a decision no one saw coming. In the end, the ship, his crew and the entire fleet would be saved!

An organization can sometimes get mired down in the complexities of data research and SEO results. A strong leader will certainly look at these points, but then sit back and listen to what they feel. What does their intuition say to them? Data points don’t know your WHY. Data points don’t know your team, what they are capable and what the values are that drive them. The Leader does. A leader that can tap into this intuition, and lead by it when appropriate will not only continue to increase the value of the organization, but win the loyalty and respect of the entire crew.

Commanding a starship and being a leader in an organization are not as different as you may have thought. While the atmosphere and the clients may be different there are core values for those that are at the helm of both that remain consistent. Build yourself a good, solid crew with divers opinions and backgrounds. Know that on the journey, mistakes will be made. Allow your crew to regroup, refine the direction and keep going. Follow your intuition, as a leader, built from you experiences and the attributes of your crew, and stand strong in the face of indecision. Thank you for indulging my Star Trek moment. I hope you have enjoyed your trip through the leadership galaxy. May the force be with you…. Oh, wait – that is another blog…..

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