So, last week I went to see the latest episode of what to me is the greatest series of movies ever made....yes, I know JarJar binks was horrible and episodes 1, 2 and 3 didn't quite live up to expectations but as a product of the 70's, Star Wars hold a very dear place in my heart.
Amidst all the special effects, strange worlds, even stranger creatures and alien dialogue, at its core it is still a story of individuals and teams banding together to banish evil and conflict from the galaxy.
Now, can we do this on a smaller scale...?
While I am not advocating anyone bringing a lightsaber, blaster or x-wing into the workplace, a few lessons from our galactic friends could help bolster leadership and engagement in your organization.
Mentor and Develop Employees
"I need your help. I've come back to complete the training" - Luke Skywalker
Just as the Jedi Masters like Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi took it upon themselves to train the future generations, so will a good leader see that one of the most important aspects of their job is to develop the leadership skills of those around them.
"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side" - Han Solo (mockingly to Luke Skywalker)
Han had very different ideas from Luke on how to confront potential dangers, but they soon harnessed those differences to work togetherfor the betterment of all (as illustrated below). By leveraging diversities and exhibiting a willingness to appreciate a different viewpoint, we can utilize cross-functional synergies for great success.
"Great shot kid, that was one in a million" - Han Solo (admiringly to Luke Skywalker)
When someone does a good job make sure to acknowledge it and they will be more than willing to go the extra mile again the next time. Be sure however to show the appreciation in the way they would like it rather than how you would (some prefer public praise, some like a personal thank-you, some want more responsibility etc..)
"A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack." - Yoda
When someone challenges (or criticizes) your actions or point of view, first try to connect with the initiator and don't jump in aggressively with what you believe is a solution. Try to find out what led them to their interpretation of the issue and then work together to resolve it.
At the end of the day it's just a fictional movie that delights and enthralls the masses, but....A short time ago in a cubicle/office/store/department not too far away dysfunction and disengagement may have been brewing.
But by recognizing and addressing this at the local level with the individuals and teams involved, organizations can avoid the path that leads to the dark side and actually boost motivation, engagement and lost productivity.
May the force be with you.....