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:
- Building an organization around particular people, rather than institutions.
- Depriving people of the chance to have a stake in the organization.
- Having no tolerance for failure.
- Focusing all of the organization’s efforts into a single goal and failing to consider alternatives.
- 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.