May 3, 2008

Leadership and Captain James T. Kirk

This is a section out of Randy Pausch's book, The Last Lecture. It's a gem.

For ambitious young boys with a scientific bent, there could be no greater role model than James T. Kirk of Star Trek. In fact, I seriously believe that I became a better teacher and colleague - maybe even a better husband - by watching Kirk run the Enterprise.

Think about it. If you've seen the TV show, you know that Kirk was not the smartest guy on the ship. Mr. Spock, his first officer, was the always-logical intellect on board. Dr. McCoy had all the medical knowledge available to mankind in the 2260s. Scotty was the chief engineer, who had the technical know-how to keep that ship running, even when it was under attack by aliens.

So what was Kirk's skill set? Why did he get to climb on board the Enterprise and run it?

The answer: There is this skill set called "leadership."

I learned so much by watching this guy in action. He was the distilled essence of the dynamic manager, a guy who knew how to delegate, had the passion to inspire, and looked good in what he wore to work. He never professed to have skills greater than his subordinates. He acknowledged that they knew what they were doing in their domains. But he established the vision, the tone. He was in charge of morale...Every time Kirk showed up on the screen he was like a Greek god to me (pp. 43-44).

I told you this was a good book. Go and get it and read the whole thing.

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