Darth Vader On Leadership

I loved the New Start Wars Movie (comes out on DVD soon!) but I will say that I miss our classic villain: Darth Vader.  So today I’ve got 3 leadership takeaways from this villain who got it all wrong.

Takeaway #1: Insecurity

You remember the scene. You were probably 5 or 6 when you first saw it, but by now you’ve seen it close to 150 times. Darth Vader walks into a meeting on the Death Star and someone challenges his authority.

So what does this leader do? He decides to choke the guy until he agrees. He even throws a spiritual phrase in there to boot: “I find your lack of faith disturbing!”

starwars-lackoffaithWhat’s the deal with this guy?

It’s really simple: he’s insecure. Insecure leaders refuse to have someone disagree with them.

Let’s be honest, no one likes it when people disagree. If you do, let me recommend you ask your doctor for stronger medication!

But leadership is about fulfilling the vision for your church or organization. It’s not about the leader needing to be right.

I think that was one of the biggest problems I had when we first started our church. I was under the impression that I had to come up with all of the good ideas and solutions to our problems as a church.

Then I discovered the people that God has placed around me were really gifted and talented. They were sitting on the sidelines waiting for me to ask them for help. The day I did, a flurry of new perspectives, ideas, and solutions arose that I would have never thought of.

That’s when I realized we were all on the same team. So the question is, are you empowering your leaders to think freely and even disagree with you in a healthy manner? If you do, you’ve find some of the most innovative ideas will emerge and you’ll be a lot less stressed as a leader.

Takeaway #2: Dealing with Mistakes

Mistakes. Everyone makes them. The issue that will affect your ability to lead is, “How do you handle it when those around you make mistakes?” Let’s look at Darth Vader’s leadership on staff mistakes.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Captain Needa has made a critical error in allowing the Millennium Falcon to escape. He apologizes to the dark lord of the Sith and Darth Vader chokes him to death and says, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.”

apology acceptedWhile we probably don’t choke people to death when they make mistakes, let’s be honest, we probably want to. No one likes mistakes, but they are going to happen. We are all going to screw things up at some point in time. That’s just a fact of life. But a truly great leader is one that can take a failure and make it an opportunity for teaching and training.

If you decide to take that moment and turn it into a lesson, we’ll gain an ally for the long haul. But we will never build trust with our teams if we humiliate them publicly and ‘choke them’ through our words and reactions.

The truth is if our team members are making mistakes, it means they’re doing something. And I’d rather have active team members making mistakes than perfect benchwarmers any day!

Takeaway#3: Trust

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” – Darth Vader

altering the dealThose words must have hit Lando Calrissian like a ton of bricks. He made a deal with a leader and he broke his promise.

One of the keys to leadership is trust and when we go back on our word we lose whatever credibility we have built.

I believe Kouzes and Posner were right when they said that the foundation of all leadership is credibility in “The Leadership Challenge.” John Maxwell called it, “The Law of buy-in: People buy into the leader, then the vision.”

It only makes sense because a person can have a great vision, but without proven character very few will get on board. That’s is why when we promise to deliver something to someone on our team, we need to follow through.

The greatest leaders make a promise and keep it because they know that if a leader doesn’t have his word, then no one will be willing to follow him.

I don’t think Lando is going to make any more deals with Mr. Vader any time soon. Because a leader that alters the deal is a leader that isn’t worth following…

I hope you enjoyed these lessons from our classic villain.  I created a short ebook to help you get a few more pointers on leadership.  You can get it here free:

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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