Everything I Learned About Leadership I Learned from Star Trek

  • Published
  • By Maj. Anthony Antoline
  • 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
Sometime in your travel through professional military education or civilian development classes, you will encounter a case study that looks at leadership. You will be asked to draw parallels from your career to the situation presented in a book or movie. I submit to you mine.

To boldly go where no one has gone before
A good leader inspires others to greater achievement. Leaders have an obligation to prepare their airmen to cope with the new challenges of the future. As the economic environment changes, our responsibilities will not decrease, and will most likely increase. We have to explore new ideas and procedures to be successful and continue the mission of the Air Force.

The prime directive
The guiding principle behind the Enterprise's exploration is the prime directive. The Air Force has this as well: our Core values. Leaders should use this standard to judge their subordinates. Did they do the right thing? Did they do their best? Did the individuals think of the mission before their own personal gains? If the answer is yes, then the subordinate should be encouraged and rewarded for cultivating this culture.

Set phasers to stun
Everything a leader says has the potential to affect someone. It is conceivable that a leader may interact with hundreds of people each week. You need to be aware that what you say may elicit a response from your subordinates that may not be what was expected. You need to be aware that as your rank increases, the scope of your influence will increase. Tempering what you say, keeping in mind respect and honesty, and leading by example, are the best ways to get the results you are looking for.

Jim, I am a doctor, not a brick layer
Eventually all leaders are challenged by doing something uncomfortable. Willingness and a good attitude are the keys to dealing with situations that take us out of our comfort zone, and can offset experience. The person that has been there and done that (and has been successful) may have an advantage, but taking the challenge of something new gives us an opportunity to learn.

Klingons, Romulans, and Vulcans
Diversity gives strength to our Air Force. Star Trek illustrated that as every culture brought a different strength or perspective to the mission. Diversity should be a resource to be cultivated. Egocentric ideas stifle growth and creativity. The New Star Trek (Piccard, not Kirk) was even more successful because those who were different came together on a larger scale with even better results.

Resistance is futile - you will be assimilated
My way or the highway works great! (Sarcasm intended.) As challenges increase, creativity should be encouraged. There are tried-and-true ways to accomplish the mission. Though the logic has been supported for years and the results are undeniable, that should not prevent us from looking for even better ways to make improvements to processes we know are successful.

The crewman in the red shirt always dies
Credibility matters. Credibility is the quality of believability, reliability, and competence. Often it allows you to influence a situation. It will affect your ability to get a job done effectively and efficiently. If you lack credibility, you continually have to provide references and justification for items or issues you know to be true, essentially slowing the process. Credibility is fragile, and it takes concerted effort to maintain it. If you lose it, it is extremely difficult to recover (The crewman in the red shirt). Leaders who provide opportunities, or deny them, will do so based on your credibility. Develop your credibility, guard it, and it will serve your future.