Why Yoda is the king of corporate governance

All images © Disney

Well, the wait is nearly over.

This weekend sees the release of the new Star Wars movie. The end of the sequel trilogy. It got me thinking, could there be leadership lessons from Star Wars?

Of course, there are! Consider the following key areas of governance practice and then look at how the Galaxy sees it.


Leadership lessons from Star Wars

Delegation to committees

  • Han Solo: No time to discuss this as a committee.
  • Princess Leia: I am not a committee!

The dangers of not listening to advice

  • Han Solo: This is not gonna work.
  • Luke Skywalker: Why didn't you say so before?
  • Han Solo: I did say so before.

Remuneration, performance and reward as a motivator

  • Luke Skywalker: She's rich.
  • Han Solo: [interested] Rich?
  • Luke Skywalker: Rich, powerful. Listen, if you were to rescue her, the reward would be...
  • Han Solo: What?
  • Luke Skywalker: Well, more wealth than you can imagine!
  • Han Solo: I don't know. I can imagine quite a bit.

Family succession planning

  • Luke Skywalker: I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.

Dealing with the dangers of conflicts of interest

  • Darth Vader: There is no conflict.

The importance of mentorship

  • Padme: All mentors have a way of seeing more of our faults than we would like. It's the only way we grow.

The danger of getting ahead of yourself

  • Count Dooku: Twice the pride, double the fall.

Know your goal

  • Tie-fighter pilot Gold 5: Stay on target. Stay on TARGET. STAY ON TARGET.

Quantified risk analysis

  • C3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.
  • Han Solo: Never tell me the odds!

Some interesting lessons. But the really powerful advice comes from one group: The Jedi. 

In third place: Qui-Gon Jinn

Qui Gon

Importance of focus

  • Keep your concentration here and now, where it belongs. Always remember, your focus determines your reality.

The importance of being aware of what is around you

  • Obi Wan to Qui-Gon: But Master Yoda says I should be mindful of the future.
  • Qui-Gon: But not at the expense of the moment.

In second place: Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi wan

The dangers of groupthink

  • Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

Importance of strategy

  • In my experience, there's no such thing as luck.

The downside of a rules-based approach over a principles one

  • Only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Power of perceptions

  • Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.

And in first place. Yoda. The King of Corporate Governance.

Ability to learn and have an open mind

  • Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.

The power of positive thinking

  • Luke: I don't, I don't believe it.
  • Yoda: That is why you fail.

Learning and development…. while dropping bad habits

  • You must unlearn what you have learned (Yoda must have been a golf swing coach in a former life!).
  • Pass on what you have learned.

Personal feelings getting in the way of effective decisions

  • Your arrogance blinds you.

The importance of direction and process (and how, where and when to structure delegated authorities)

  • Control, control, you must learn control!

Operating in a rapidly changing risk environment

  • Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.

And perhaps his most famous comment.

The importance of resilience

  • Do or do not, there is no try.

I expect very soon these leadership lessons will be joined by more insights and words of wisdom from Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker

And perhaps directors and management teams can enjoy some time off over the Christmas break and bring these lessons into the boardroom in the new year to help improve corporate governance.

Or would that only be in a boardroom, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away………….

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