Spock's Lessons in Leadership

Posted: Feb 28, 2015


With the recent death of actor Leonard Nimoy, it reminded me of his own famous character, Admiral Spock, and Spock's famous (in the sci-fi genre at least) death, and subsequent "coming back" in the later films. 

Watch the video clip here to get a sense for the chain of events, but the now well-known Star Trek written script lines have a good ground for conversation at the leadership table of any organization, at any given time.

Spock's sacrifice of his life to ensure the continuation and success of the greater mission of the Enterprise can be debated in a whole bunch of arguments, and contradictions occurred apparently even within the later films. To me, there is no right or wrong answer about his decision that would apply to all situations.

Overall, when our companies, organizations and lives are faced with difficulties or opportunities, we all run into a series of options and choices, each with variable outcomes for individuals and organizations. Do we go with the needs or desires of the many and why? Will we instead go with the ideas, needs or choices of the few, or of the one? Why or why not?

Leadership is hard. Your team looks to you to guide them and make the best choices. And as an employee, your organization looks to you for your best advice and ideas. People will not all ever agree (usually) on the course they wish for the company or organization or department to take. It is often up to you in the end to decide.

Are you willing to occasionally take the Spock approach, sacrificing your own desires for the good and potential benefit of the group or organization or its clients or service recipients? Are you willing and able to sometimes go with the desires and preference of the many, your employees or co-workers, against your own beliefs and what you advised them may be best? And are you willing to take an educated chance sometimes when one individual has an idea or thought totally against the grain, and stands alone, but assured that the new idea is your best option over the long term?

True leadership decisions involve a delicate balance between all of these. We only get so much time to debate the choices typically, and you eventually have to make a decision. Then you have to live with the outcomes, good, bad or in-between.

Most of the time, organizational decisions and department decisions will never have a terrible potential negative outcome between one choice and the next. Stop sweating those as much. It will be fine most of the time. At the larger organizational level, however, our decisions often do have a huge outcome on people's lives, and that includes employees and consumers, shareholders, our communities and ourselves. It ain't easy. But you're in charge.

Will the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or of the one? Or will the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? Only you can decide.