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4 leadership lessons from Captain Picard

October 23, 2011 - Professional Development

Capt Jean-Luc PicardAs a way to unwind each night after the kids go to bed, my husband and I watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (I love Netflix instant streaming).  Besides being delighted by new life forms, thrilling adventures, and edge-of-your-seat mysteries, this being the first time I’ve seen these episodes, I’m constantly struck by the very profound and inspirational leadership style of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  I’m not sure how healthy or unhealthy it is to have a role model in the form of a fictional character, but halfway through season 4, it’s happened to me: Captain Picard is my role model leader.


Captain Picard never makes a decision in a vacuum.  He surrounds himself with people smarter than him, and consults these experts when faced with a tricky situation.  Everyone plays a critical role, everyone is heard, and Captain Picard trusts his team.  And through this trust, he earns their loyalty.

Standing up for what’s right

I think this, more than anything else, inspires my awe for Captain Picard.  His dedication to doing what’s moral and simply right is unwavering.  He could be facing the highest ranking individuals in Starfleet and still push back on orders, if he believes they are in any way unethical.  He keeps his cool, he stays rational, but will never back down from doing the right thing.

“Make it so.”

In Star Trek: TNG, decisions immediately translate to action.  Yes, Captain Picard consults his staff — decisions aren’t made rashly or carelessly.  However, once a decision is made, the sense of urgency is felt by the entire team, and Captain Picard ensures the decision turns into immediate action.  It’s strategy execution at its finest.

Keeping an open mind

One of the most fun things about the show is the introduction of new life forms.  Besides admiring the makeup artists’ work, it’s interesting to see the careful consideration given to each life form’s cultural habits.  And these cultures aren’t taken lightly.  Some of them may be what we would consider unusual, downright weird, or even grotesque, but respect and open-mindedness for new cultures is demanded by Captain Picard.  Nothing is discounted on the basis of not being understood.  The first aim is always to understand.

Captain Picard and Data

What leadership role model do you have (fictional or non-fictional)?

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