Yes, Star Trek Into Darkness Holds a Key Leadership Truth

EnterpriseEven if you think you hate Star Trek, or skipped the new movies out of reverence for the original cast, stay with me. Captain James Tiberius Kirk is a perfect illustration of how our greatest strengths — those assets fundamental to our leadership success — can also be our biggest nemesis. (And if you haven’t seen Star Trek Into Darkness, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers).

The movie kicks off with Kirk breaking the Prime Directive (that pesky rule stating that Starfleet personnel must never interfere with other societies or planets). Jim does so, though, to save an entire civilization. Reasonable, right? Kirk excels at reading situations and people, weighing risks, sifting through possible consequences, and acting.

But then Kirk falls into the trap we all are susceptible to — we make up our minds without conscious reasoning and then justify our reasoning after the fact. He lies about their actions in the report he submits to Starlet. And Spock doesn’t. They get hauled on the carpet in front of Kirk’s mentor, Admiral Pike. Kirk gives a million reasons as to why his actions were right.

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The Power of Three

All of us find ignoring feedback quite easy—all too often the source doesn’t really understand the situation, or your intentions, or how different your needs are from others, right? Ignoring results on many psychological assessments or instruments can be easy,…

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Are They Acting On Your Priorities?

DSC00328I recently heard of a school district with five hundred initiatives underway right now. They’re proud of it–they’re reaching out to students at risk for dropping out, targeting STEM enrichment, working on literacy, increasing coaching capacity, and so on.

The problem? No change effort can be focused in 500 different directions. Right now, things are falling by the wayside–and the district leadership probably doesn’t know what is and isn’t being done. Somewhere down in the ranks, people are deciding, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they will actually accomplish.

It may be what seems most urgent to them. Or what best fits their current skills. Or what is easiest. Or what the person above them is screaming for.

Chances are, though, it isn’t what the leaders at the top consider most important. Why?

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Mastery: Are You Doing All You Can?

masteryLast year, I read a book that challenged me at a personal level, Robert Greene’s Mastery. In it, Greene asks, given that so many high-IQ people are pretty much failures at life, what separates the da Vincis and Mozarts–and modern-day examples such as musician John Coltrane, animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, and boxing trainer Freddie Roach–from the pack?

Greene came up with six common factors, all of which should give each one of us to ponder, “Where am I selling my own talents short? What next step would help me make more of the potential I’ve been given? How should I be working harder? Have I searched hard enough to identify the idea/cause/goal that would motivate me to pursue thousands of hours of deliberate practice to reach mastery?” Here are the common factors.

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What’s Your Part of the Problem?

3855181622_292d0f13d4_zRecently I learned that an organization for which I’d made possible a large (and successful) marketing event hadn’t bothered to follow through with a requested reciprocal effort.

My first reaction? Frustration that threatened to quickly move toward anger. Lucky for me, I didn’t run into the responsible parties while I was discovering what hadn’t been done. If I had, I might have resorted to the kind of blaming tactics that I hope I left behind on the grade school playground!

But something reminded me to ask myself, “What was your part in this problem?” What had I done, or not done, that resulted in their lack of follow-through? As I reflected, I had to admit that I probably hadn’d specifically outlined how a couple of simple actions on their part would not only support my goals but probably improves results for them and for us.

As an old Irish saying puts it,

[quote align=”center” color=”#247ca4″]Why do we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our good intentions?[/quote] Before being sure that blame rests with the other party, consider

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