Archive for March, 2017


Pick Your Top Five…

OK, so you like Star Trek. But which series? What other Science Fiction TV series do you love? Wikipedia lists hundreds so this list is a just a few that I picked based on my biases and years of watching TV.

Tell me… you know you want to… Pick your top five:

 

What about … ?

Whenever I talk to someone about my interest in leadership and science fiction and that I’m primarily looking at TOS, TNG, and BSG inevitably I am asked why I’m ignoring such-and-such series. The most commonly suggested programs are Babylon 5 and Blake’s 7. Needless to say I have watched both these programs and quite a few others. So I suppose now is as good a time as any to talk about why I’m not going to spend much, if any, time considering the leadership elements of any series other than The Big Three.

Babylon 5. I’ll agree this is half-way decent science fiction but my overriding impression of Babylon 5 is that there is too much of the mystical element within the plots. Most, if not all science fiction has some element of mysticism but the Big Three has such strong character development whereas I think Babylon 5 suffers from characters who are somewhat less than deep. Furthermore, Babylon 5, while a clear cut ensemble piece, is not a team-based drama. Indeed the ensemble spends much time involved in plots, counter-plots and sub-plots among themselves rather than acting as a team with a common goal or purpose. Sure it makes for fine drama but it does not provide good story elements for leadership portrayals.

Blake’s 7. If you can put to one side the appallingly-low budget sets that the BBC foisted upon the viewing public (perhaps only ATV’s Crossroads had a lower production budget), essentially this piece is about a bunch of criminals who are forced to work together or else face further incarceration or worse. Not exactly the lofty goal one would choose as a leadership rallying flag. Don’t get me wrong – Paul Darrow’s portrayal of Kerr Avon was riveting stuff and he remains one of my favourite anti-heroes. But I won’t be using this team of back-stabbing murderers as a shining example of how to lead until I get enough time to write a piece on how not to lead.

Doctor Who. The world’s longest running science fiction drama. But is the Doctor a leader? Does having an assistant who consistently gets into trouble only for the Doctor to save the day by dint of some smart technology make the Time Lord a realistic role model for corporate management? I say not.

Space: 1999. Ah, at last. A series where there is a clear cut leader and a team, with a common purpose and bond. In my original plan for this work I was going to include S99 right up until I re-watched the first few episodes. Oh the tedium. Martin Landau is a talented actor and indeed the cast is a decent ensemble. But the pace of each episode is so slow that I just can’t bring myself to watch all 48 episodes again.

Red Dwarf. Its. A. Comedy.

Deep Space Nine. I wanted to fall in love with DS9, honestly I did. I really, really did. But I didn’t. It even had Worf and Jadzia Dax and the Dominion War. But I lost interest and I can’t explain why. Maybe because Sisko had all the dynamism of a store front mannequin or that Quark was the real star of the show. Nonetheless it has some really good leadership moments which I will feature.

Voyager. Ronald D. Moore summed it up perfectly. This star ship gets blown to smithereens every week and in the next episode everything is shiny and new and no-one is upset that Janeway broke some directive for the umpteenth time. Too much techno-babble and the meshing of the Maquis with the Starfleet crew works with only minor inconveniences. Not even Seven of Nine can persuade me to re-watch seven years of Janeway’s righteousness. Resistance is not futile. Again, this series has a surprisingly decent number of quotable leadership moments.

Enterprise. I liked Enterprise. I could even get over Connor Trineer’s ham-fisted engineer. It had T’Pol as well. But it was TOS revisited with better special effects and my time is not infinite. I also cannot forgive the production company for the worst finale of all time. The. Worst. Having said that, Archer and Tucker do have a few good moments.

Stargate SG1 et al. Big Stone Circle thing with Time Tunnel overtones. Didn’t grab my attention, perhaps because the movie was so good. Yes, it’s got Macgyver and eventually Aeryn Sun, and alien vampires are always interesting. But the antagonists always seemed to have such superior technology that continuous survival just seemed ridiculous. Where was the Prime Directive when you needed it?

Of course, you probably feel differently. You also can think of two or three other series I didn’t mention, including X Files. Let me know…

The new edition of The Leadership Challenge is coming out soon. Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have released this short slideshow to remind us that leadership makes a difference.   For example, 94% of direct reports are “willing to work hard” when leaders very frequently or almost always challenge them to try out new and innovative ways to do their work compared to only 5% of direct reports when leaders almost never or rarely challenge people. That’s a tremendous delta and you can see significants gains in productivity and results. Good stuff!

 

Welcome to To Boldly Lead – leadership lessons from science fiction.

The purpose of this blog is to critically examine examples of leadership from Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Battlestar Galactica using theoretic models and to discuss real world applications.

I’ll also use examples from other science fiction works such as Space: 1999 and Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series.  Whatever the medium, if there’s a leadership lesson, I’ll be using it. Occasionally I’ll use examples from non-fiction, such as the excellent Invictus, or even other works of fiction – perhaps Horatio Hornblower (Gene Roddenberry‘s inspiration for James Tiberius Kirk).

Theoretical models and frameworks include Hersey and Blanchard’s Situational Leadership theory plus Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid but primarily I will be using Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Challenge.

The name of this blog is a portmanteau of the phrase “to boldly go where no-one has gone before” and the main topic of this blog: leadership.  Kouzes and Posner argue that leadership is a choice and that it takes courage to make that choice. Being a leader means to be bold. What better name could I choose than to combine the most famous science fiction phrase of all time with a fundamental leadership principle.

Comments are welcome: good, bad, or indifferent.

So Say We All!!

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