March 15, 2012

Lessons on Leadership, from Captain Kirk

I just happened upon an article about leadership skills on the Forbes website.  (I know, you're thinking "Forbes?  Really?"  Admittedly it's not my usual genre, but you know how those internet accidents -- or miracles, depending on your perspective -- happen.)

Anyway, it piqued my interest because it mentioned Captain James T. Kirk, and well, I am and always have been a HUGE Star Trek fan.  And James T. Kirk was the first, and best, captain of the Enterprise.  No matter what anyone says.

I mean, just look at him.....

Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise, from Wikipedia

So, what do we learn about leadership from Captain Kirk, and why are we talking about it on a design blog?

Well, we're talking about it because good leadership is a skill that everyone should have.  It is especially important to women, as we are coming into our own in the business world -- no longer just following the male model, but forging our own pathways.  And I know that most of you out there forging your path in the blogosphere are women.  Women who, like me, have families and businesses, both of which are growing and changing.  We are at the helm of the ship; we need to know how to steer it and how to keep the crew happy and productive. 

You can read the whole article here; and I encourage you to do so.  But to sum up the lessons, and bring them home:

1. Never stop learning.  To learn something new every day should be your mantra.  Your personal goal.  Even things that seem to have no relevance to you today can be incredibly meaningful or useful at another point in life.

2. Listen to people who have different opinions.  As women, we're talkers (just ask any husband!).  We know that many great ideas come from sharing information with each other from our own unique perspectives. For me, some of the best and most inspired design solutions have resulted from a client or colleague disagreeing with my initial idea.  It makes both of us think outside the box, and forces creative juices to flow.

3. Be on the "Away Team".  You can't rule the world sitting at the kitchen table in front of your laptop.  Get out.  Go.  Do.  Try.  Experience.  Be intrepid. 

4. Learn to play poker.  Seriously.  Look at the people around you; see what they've brought to the table.  What about your own hand?  Hold 'em?  Fold 'em?  Don't be afraid to bluff....

5. Follow your passion....and know when to walk away.  This might be the toughest one, especially for the most tenacious among us.  Even Kirk got to the point where the best option was to blow up the Enterprise.  It broke his heart, but when the choice was between the lives of his crew and the existence of his ship, he made the right decision.  You can always build a new ship, using the same intense passion....and who knows, the new ship might turn out to be bigger, better and faster.

Whatever ship you're steering today, may you go boldly, and in the company of a great crew.


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