Timeless Business and Leadership Lessons From Star Wars

Timeless Business Lessons from Star Wars

Have you braved the crowds yet? Star Wars: The Force Awakens just enjoyed one of the best opening weekends of all time. Movie magic aside, that’s a product launch we all can admire.

The Star Wars saga is an enduring brand just as much as it is an epic story of good and evil. The enduring appeal of its wise warriors, spunky underdogs, evil emperors (and The Force, of course) make it a natural source to plumb for good advice — whether you’re a die-hard fan, or just swept up in the current excitement.

To celebrate opening week of the long awaited Episode VII, we’ve assembled the best business and leadership lessons from Star Wars. Advice that can help you lead projects, manage your team, avoid costly mistakes — and use customer data wisely.

No spoilers, we promise — just B2B wit and wisdom, courtesy of one of the most successful franchises in the galaxy. Enjoy.

How to Rule the Galaxy (and Lead Your Team)

Jedis are famous throughout the galaxy for their adventurous spirit and their code of ethics. And their leadership qualities, according to business coach Scott Edinger.

In his article Seven Executive Leadership Lessons In Honor Of Star Wars Episode VII for Forbes, Edinger uses his insight from working with leaders in over 25 different industries to examine the Jedi code and pull out seven powerful lessons in leadership from the Star Wars sagas.

Our favorite on Edinger’s list? Respecting the perspectives of novices (padawans in the movies, but frontline employees and new-hires to the likes of us). They can be “unfettered in their thinking and able to see things others don’t,” which is certainly a welcome and refreshing perspective to balance those with long histories in the company.

Between 900-year-old Jedi Masters and team leads handling their first project, there are many parallels in right conduct, brave leadership, and commitment to excellence. Take a spin through Edinger’s list to learn from the best role models the galaxy can provide.

And be sure not miss the video link at the end of the article.

You can be sure this video won’t be selected as part of the Galactic Empire employee onboarding training: 5 Leadership Mistakes according to the Galactic Empire is full of what NOT to do as you consolidate power and look to dominate your rivals.

Suffering from a coworker with a single-minded obsession, or a charismatic team lead with a small temper problem (and zero tolerance for mistakes)? Take solace in this two-minute treatise on leadership mistakes and the best practices that would have avoided them.

This Is Not the Team Culture You’re Looking For

“You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.”
— Darth Vader

If you’ve ever felt the pain of a project far behind schedule, you might spare some sympathy for Darth Vader — especially when you remember that Return of the Jedi begins as Vader arrives at the (new, only half-built) Death Star to determine why things as so far behind.

Or maybe your sympathies are with the Commander who is woefully understaffed for the project? You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to know that nobody wins when executives like The Emperor start showing up to help “motivate.”

Project management consultant Todd Sheridan has coached enough businesses to know that poor team management isn’t a product of evil — it’s just the symptom of a system that needs improvement. In his It’s a Trap! Agile Lessons from Star Wars — delightfully peppered with movie clips — Sheridan outlines what he sees as the top ways the Empire fails at building team culture.

One of the worst? Centralized decision-making that creates a team that’s hampered by fear and unable to adapt and make adjustments without explicit top-down direction. “Nothing shuts down innovation, motivation and collaboration faster than a fear-based culture,” argues Sheridan. That’s no way to build a space station – or work towards any worthy goal in a bustling market.

The Rebellion, however, demonstrates agility by listening to new ideas (even when the odds are overwhelmingly against them) and adapting plans. It’s no surprise, concludes Sheridan, who outperforms whom.

If you’re managing a tricky high-stakes project — or just in charge of a project team — this article has good food for thought on how team culture can make, or break, your project goals.

Search Your Records, Luke

“Data is the Force for business,” says Jim Hopkins, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at Data.com. The parallels, he argues, are compelling: in the business world, big data surrounds us, binds us together — and harnessing it could lead to giant growth.

Too much of a stretch? By the end of How Star Wars Can Help with Your Data Problems,” you might just be convinced. In this article for Medium, Hopkins lays out the lessons the Skywalker family — and the Force — have for businesses who make a point to collect and leverage client data.

First, mismanagement of data can turn your collection systems into the bad guy. Data that’s poorly collected, badly maintained — or just purposeless and random — can frustrate and confuse just as easily as it can provide breakthroughs. And, depending on the integrity of those who handle the data, it is best used by those with a strong sense of responsibility and empathy.

In the Star Wars saga, the Skywalker family displays an instinctive ability to tap into the Force. In the real world, that’s a learned skill — not a destiny — but wielding it with strength and purpose can lead to great things. Have a thing for data (or want your business to develop one)? Have a read to learn how to harness the power of data in your company.

The Talent Awakens: Management Lessons from Star Wars [Infographic]

And last but not least: HR lessons from Star Wars? Oh yes, says HR management company Cornerstone On Demand. Citing employee disengagement close to 85% range, Cornerstone’s infographic The Talent Awakens: 16 Onboarding and Management Lessons from Star Wars is just the thing to restore balance to the workForce.

The tips — and the graphics — are based on quotes and and scenes from the two trilogies, and the advice is spot on. From the perils of micromanagement to the triumph of individuality (no clones!), these lessons are playful reminders of some serious best practices.