Leadership

The Galactic Empire teaches leaders what not to do

Star Wars fans, read about the Galactic Empire's five leadership mistakes, according to a recent Forbes article.

When I think of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, I don't normally also think of quality leadership -- and for good reason. Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader are truly horrible leaders, and not just because they have chosen to follow the evil of the dark side -- it turns out they make fewer ethical decisions than Eric Gordon in Billy Madison.

Forbes staff writer Alex Knapp outlined Five Leadership Mistakes of the Galactic Empire in a recent article. The mistakes are based around the common themes of empowering the people who work for you to make their own decisions and not being able to see the broader picture; however, the mistakes are well supported with evidence from the Star Wars story. In addition, Knapp includes what is probably the worst mistake anyone can make: failure to learn from mistakes.

The five mistakes of the Galactic Empire that he outlines are:

  1. Building an organization around particular people, rather than institutions.
  2. Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.
  3. Having no tolerance for failure.
  4. Focusing all of the organization's efforts into a single goal and failing to consider alternatives.
  5. Failing to learn from mistakes.

(Be sure to check out the response the writer got from The Empire's PR.)

Knapp's article, as well as the previous installment in the series Five Leadership Lessons from James T. Kirk, helps us to learn from our favorite science-fiction franchises. These articles follow in the tradition of books such as All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek and All the Other Things I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek: Next Generation by Dave Marinaccio.

What do you think of these Empire leadership faux pas? Can you think of any other examples where the Emperor or Darth Vader bypassed acceptable leadership standards, thereby inching the empire closer to its demise? If so, share them in the comments.

25 comments
blarman
blarman

Here are some of the problems with dictatorships: 1) The dictator assumes they know everything. 2) Personal expression is limited, limiting different viewpoints, ideas, and methods 3) Internal competition is lethal - literally 4) Motivation relies on hate, anger, and rage, selfishness, and power. There is no such thing as sacrifice. 5) Rewards are political rather than achievement-based, meaning that there will be a few that game the system to get ahead at the expense of everyone else 6) Corruption and nepotism is rife

sboverie
sboverie

Comparing the empire to poor leadership is a good start. These mistakes are the result of egotism, an assumption of invulnerablity and a warped viewpoint of reality. I like the idea that a good leader is one who leads his group to a higher level of need, that is if the group is struggling to survive then the leader helps them accomplish that and go on to the next level of need of security using Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

dave
dave

Since the Sith only think in absolutes there are no alternatives. Also when you think in absolutes it's only about particular people, you.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Just replace "dictator" with "political commentator/radio show host" The main problem with autocrats is, they tend to have idiot offspring.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Much more like any [b]Fundamental Religion[/b] Col ;)

blarman
blarman

A political commentator can't rule your life. Whether it's Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh, you can still choose to ignore them. Not so with a dictator like Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, or Joseph Stalin. Trying to ignore them gets you a nice place in a work camp where you are starved to death. And neither Bill Maher nor Rush Limbaugh would be allowed at all in a dictatorship: Rush would be summarily hanged and noone would be rich enough to have a TV to watch Maher.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Islam is the only major "religion" that codifies the killing of innocents into its "holy book" simply for not accepting their "god." Just look at all the conflicts in the world over the last 30-40 years or so (involving arms, bombs, hijackings, etc.). The vast majority were either started by or involve Muslims in one way or another. Salmon Rushdie was correct when he referred to their book as the Satanic Verses. So, Kilroy199 does have a point.

blarman
blarman

No idea where you're going with this.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Rush hasn't been elected Chancellor of the Realm, yet... To quote Kilroy199: Oh yeah, I went there!!!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

there is no 'truth', there's no one to sort it out or judge. Only opinions and beliefs that if presented in any other non-religious context would be dismissed as not being credible 'source material'.

blarman
blarman

What had just been done for the Israelites? They had lived for hundreds of years as slaves. They endured a harrowing escape and miraculous delivery. Now their spiritual leader goes up into a mountain for a couple of weeks to receive direction and their true nature shows - they don't appreciate the freedom they've been given and they want to go back to a life of slavery and idol worship. Despite all they've seen, they deny their deliverer. They bite the hand that feeds them. The whole story of the Old Testament is this same story over and over: the Israelites are miraculously delivered from their enemies, then they backslide, they are chastened - usually militarily - and then they repent, only to start the whole cycle over again. Joshua, Elijah, David, Samson, Esther. The list of stories goes on and on.

blarman
blarman

"The same could be said of the actions of almost any religious extremist." It's hard to know exactly what someone who commits these acts is actually thinking. They may believe someone who has told them that these acts are true acts of faith. They may be holding a grudge. We may never know. There are two things that help me. 1) Their actions (and mine) will eventually be vetted by someone with a clear view of everything, including upbringing, history, intent, etc. And it won't be me. 2) There is a way to know the truth about anything. All you have to do is go to the source.

randall.d.gibson
randall.d.gibson

You are correct that it was not the Israelites that slew the first-born. According to the Bible, it was an angel sent by God. But how about the rest of Exodus? When Moses returned from the mountain with the tablets containing God's commandments, he saw the Israelites worshiping an idol that his brother Aaron had constructed. He had the Levites kill thousands of them as punishment. So they were killing their own family because of worshipping wrong!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I don't think any person in their right mind views the Klan's actions as Christian." The same could be said of the actions of almost any religious extremist. That's the point; those taking the actions view what they're doing as correct, according to their interpretation of a faith's tenets and scriptures. All religions are based on faith. Faith demands belief in the face of the unproven (unprovable?). Who is to say any one is right or wrong? For all anyone can prove, those who interpret the Koran as the word of a god who requires killing non-believers are the people who have made the correct interpretation, and everyone else is wrong. Me, I think all religions are equally invalid, and that far more damage is done in their name than any of them are worth. Unlike some believers, I'm willing to acknowledge that I could be wrong.

blarman
blarman

compare the doctrine to the actions. In the case of the Old Testament story about the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, it wasn't the Israelites that slew the first-born. And Pharoah had been warned more than a dozen times with other demonstrations of the consequences, so he was far from innocent. Your North Ireland example is another one where the doctrine and the actions don't match up. Again, there is nothing in the Bible that supports Christian aggression. The burning cross was most infamously used as a symbol of intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan, and I don't think any person in their right mind views the Klan's actions as Christian. The Crusades and the Inquisition - again - need a whole lot more historical context than the paragraph allotted in the typical textbook. Both of those were religious wars started when the Islamic nations tried to take over all of Europe by military force. Take a couple of months and study some history. I'm not defending the barbarous actions, just pointing out that there is a LOT more to the story of hundreds of years than a simple soundbite. Religions are ways of life based on doctrine and theology, but there is often a gap - sometimes egregious - between what the "believers" do and the actual doctrine. There have been many throughout history that have used religion as an excuse to further their own ends. This is the fault of the individual, however, and does not necessarily mean the doctrine is faulty.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

If that isn't a case of killing because the inhabitants rejected a god, what is it? How about the killing of innocent first-born Egyptian males for the actions of that land's leader? 'But that's Old Testament!' Doesn't the New Testament repeatedly stress that those who do not accept its god will be condemned to suffer? Sounds pretty straight-forward to me: accept this religion or die. Look back a little farther. There were no Muslims involved in Northern Ireland; that was strictly an intraconference game for decades. A burning cross was the terrorist symbol of choice in the US through much of the 20th century. The Crusades were spread over centuries. And nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Who said anything about Zionism? I know it has nothing to do with Islam.

john.a.wills
john.a.wills

Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from Error; whoever rejects Evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. My comment: some Moslems seem not to have read this. By the way, Zionism is not a Moslem phenomenon.

blarman
blarman

How much do you actually know about the history of the Crusades? Do you know the history of the Saracens? The Moors? It takes a lot more than a single post to explain the entire history of the Crusades and what happened. It's usually an entire class in college history. The Crusades were as much a military intervention to prevent the spread of Islam as anything. And no, they are not sanctioned by teachings in the Bible.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Not all of it yet, but I'm trying. Have you? If you have, you apparently missed the part about the rocks and trees crying out to Muslims to kill the Jews hiding behind them and the other verses exhorting violence. Islam was born in violence. Mo subjugated and killed wherever he went. If it suited him to deceive his intended victims by acting peaceful, he did until he had the strength to slaughter them for refusing Islam. Everywhere Muslims go, they bring violence when there numbers are high enough to get away with it. Look at France, Germany, England, etc. I suppose you support the way they treat women and children as property to be bartered and sold at a whim? Have you seen the beheading videos? Islam is every bit as dangerous as Communism and Naziism. In fact, during WWII, the Muslims were hoping the Nazis would eliminate the Jews for them. The Mufti of Jerusalem was a pal of Hitler. Wherever Islam dominates, freedom suffers. Anyone who is not a Muslim is a second-class citizen or is persecuted and killed. The crusades were a response to Muslim invasions into Europe. No, they weren't following the Bible, they were trying to preserve their way of life. The best way to defeat an enemy is to take the war to him, thus the invasions of the Middle East. At least they succeeded in pushing the Muslims out of Europe for the most part. War is not condemned in the Bible but murder is. There is a difference. We live in a violent world. People or countries unwilling to defend themselves get subjugated or killed. "If you want peace, prepare for war." "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." You say you read. Perhaps you should read up on what Islam really is; a political/ideological system with a religious cover. I suggest thereligionofpeace.com for starters. There isn't enough space here to list Islams violence, crimes and atrocities since its inception. Islam is Dark Side, just like the Empire (to tie it back to the article).

randall.d.gibson
randall.d.gibson

That is the book that you claim Muslims follow that tells them to be "so bloody and violent". It doesn't direct Muslims to be bloody and violent any more than the Christian Bible directs Christians to be bloody and violent. (FYI, I am a Christian. But I also read!) And if we follow the non-violence of the Christian Bible, how do you account for the crusades? That was our time of "Jihad", and the leaders were supposedly following the Bible. Face facts. Extremists can take any written word and interpret it to mean whatever they want. Ever hear of "peace through superior fire-power"? That is how you condone peace by killing, regardless of how much it is against the teachings of the Bible and the Koran.

blarman
blarman

With any religion, there is the doctrine and there are those who claim to be following it. But if you aren't following the doctrine, I don't believe the claim that you represent that religion. That goes for Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and everything else. There is the religion (the doctrine) and there are the imperfect people who _attempt_ to practice it. One should also recognize that no religion is without branches that sometimes believe wholly different things. Christianity to a Roman Catholic is different than Christianity to a Protestant which is different than Christianity to a Mormon. Islam has three distinct branches - Wahab, Shia, and Sunni which have been warring amongst themselves for more than 1000 years - and not wars of words. Religion is a vast topic and can't be boiled down into simplistic statements about good and bad quite so easily, nor should all religions be judged based on the behavior of a few people. Start with the doctrines/beliefs and then look to see how completely the followers adhere to the beliefs.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

you didn't read what I said. Muslims do what their book tells them. That's why they are so violent and bloody. The Bible condemns senseless killing. Those that claim to be Christians and do that stuff are doing it contrary to what the Bible teaches. Those aren't "good" Christians (maybe not even Christians at all). Jonestown was a cult, not Christians. Yes, there are people who call themselves Christians that do bad. There's bad in every group. But they are doing it CONTRARY to biblical teachings. And we are all human and prone to human weaknesses and failings. Even the best among us sometimes slip and do things that are wrong. Islam cannot be compared to Christianity or any other religion because their "god" and "prophet" command them to kill or subjugate the "infidel." The others don't. And where did I say in my post that Christians are Good and everyone else is misguided and bad? You are reading a lot into my post that just isn't so. ;)

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Involving themselves in Genocide don't count? Sorry but I find it Hypocritical picking on any one religion when all of them are so badly misused by the idiots for their own ends. Anyone remember Jonestown? Or the Good Christian kidnapping children and using them as Sex Slaves and Soldiers in Africa? OH and wasn't it Christians who started the Serbia thing? NA that couldn't be right Christians are Good and everyone else is misguided and bad. :^0 Col