I Am Your Leader!

The nice thing about having a 7-year old son is that I get to watch all Star Wars movies again and again!

Lest I get bored watching them for the nth time, I now spend time asking myself questions like “Is Darth Vader actually a good leader?”

Let’s take a look at this. There are things Darth Vader does that shows he is a good leader:

1. He gets clarity and commitment from his team: At the start of Episode VI, he makes it clear to the second Death Star commander that should the works not be completed on time, the Emperor may not be as forgiving as he is. This is setting a clear goal of what needs to be done.
2. Vader gets his hands in the dirt several times in order to support his team: In Episode IV, he led the initial assault on Princess Leia’s Corellian freighter to recover the stolen Death Star plans; at the end of that same Episode, he climbs in his own TIE fighter to go shoot down the X-wings and B-wings attempting to destroy the Death Star. In Episode V, he leads the ground assault of the Rebel base on Hoth.
3. He has a clear succession plan in mind: His son, Luke should work with him, learn from him, rule with him and become the future Emperor.
4. Finally, Vader rests, as seen several times in Episode V.

To balance this though, there are times where Darth Vader demonstrates poor leadership:

1. He is only ruling through fear, anger, aggression (well, that’s the dark side isn’t it?).
2. He has zero tolerance for mistake and failure. As such, he does not empower his people to learn from mistakes. Instead, most of them get choked. Look at Episode V for multiple examples of how Vader deals with feedback and failure.
3. He does not show curiosity or a willingness to learn from others. In Episode IV, he makes it clear to Obi-Wan Kenobi that he is now the master, implying he has nothing left to learn.
4. Vader does not show empathy nor strong soft skills. Well, this is until the end of Episode VI, when he finally uncovers he does feel for his son Luke and he proceeds with killing the Emperor.

Let’s assume Darth Vader is your boss. What would you like him to do more of? less of? start doing or stop doing? Tell me in the comments.

For comments or questions, please visit my website or contact me at pascal@p-m-coaching.com