6 Enduring Leadership Lessons from Darth Vader
Darth Vader is one of the most iconic figures in the history of cinema. For those unfamiliar with the Star Wars movies (is that possible?), it turns out that Vader wasn’t even that bad of a guy, actually.
But beyond that, he was a seriously effective leader. Don’t believe me? Here are leadership qualities you can learn from the famous dark lord:
1. He held his people accountable
When an Imperial officer informed the dark lord that his men had lost Han Solo and company in an asteroid field, Vader was swift in his judgment and response. Disappointed by the failure of his subordinate, Darth Vader used the Force to choke Captain Lorth Needa to death.
When things don’t go as planned, leaders need to figure out the next course of action as quickly as possible. In addition to doing precisely that, Vader showed the rest of his staff exactly what they could expect to happen to them should they fail similarly. Though I wouldn’t suggest you go to the same extreme as Vader did.
2. He made sure projects wrapped up quickly
The famous Death Star, the huge globe-like intergalactic battle station that could destroy an entire planet with a single shot, was actually the second iteration of such a machine.
The first Death Star was destroyed earlier. Not to worry: Darth Vader used his workflow optimization and people management skills to accelerate construction on the second Death Star, bringing the product to market way ahead of schedule — and presumably under budget too. It’s a shame those pesky rebels destroyed it yet again.
3. He could land a meeting with anyone
When Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia went to Cloud City to meet up with Lando Calrissian, they weren’t expecting to see Darth Vader waiting for them in a dining room. Great leaders are able to make an audience with the exact folks they’re looking for, no matter where they happen to be in the universe.
4. He was an effective communicator
On Cloud City, Vader and Luke fought each other. During the battle, Vader cut off Luke’s hand. But he also gained something very important, knowledge communicated so eloquently and concisely when Vader said, “Luke, I am your father.”
Successful leaders have spectacular communication skills. More importantly, they don’t beat around the bush. Vader didn’t tell Luke the story about how he met his mother and everything else; he simply cut to the chase, saving everyone’s time while conveying his message.
5. He was always recruiting
Though Luke was fighting against the dark side, Vader didn’t stop trying to get him to fight alongside him. Vader knew that with Luke on board, the Sith would have a much easier time accomplishing their objectives — however nefarious they happened to be.
Today, there’s no shortage of companies poaching top talent from their competitors in the business world. Even in the most stressful and violent of circumstances, Vader was always thinking about making his team stronger.
6. He never forgot where he came from
It’s true that Darth Vader, born Anakin Skywalker, started off as a good guy before becoming a ruthless murderer hell-bent on dominating the galaxy. But he ultimately realized the follies of the dark side and ended up dying as a good, honorable man.
Strong leaders never forget who they are. They don’t let wealth, perks, or prestige change their personality. Vader did stumble for a bit there — like any cyborg might — but in the end, he remembered what was most important.
May the Force be with you and your workforce!