Inspirational Leadership Tips from The Last Jedi

Inspirational Leadership Tips from The Last Jedi


by Morgan Milbradt, on February 06, 2018


I wouldn’t exactly call myself a Star Wars fan. In fact, The Last Jedi is only the second Star Wars movie I have seen in my entire life.  As I was sitting next to my better half in the movie theater, gripping my seat and sipping on a liter of Cherry Coke, it hit me. Inspiring others is an important key to great leadership. And wow, does Star Wars get it right.

If you haven’t seen the 9th installment of this intergalactic series, or you don’t think Sci-fi is your thing, you should shove your doubts to the side and go see The Last Jedi while it’s still in theaters. It’s jam-packed with action, adventure, super cute animals (look at these adorable porgs), and even a touch of a love story (kind of).
 

Inspirational Leadership: A Common Theme

As I watched The Last Jedi, I noticed a theme (one that is actually quite prominent in many other Star Wars movies): The members of The Resistance kept facing challenges (being chased, The First Order shooting at them, finding themselves in situations with no escape, you get the picture). Yet each time they found themselves facing a difficult situation, one of the leaders would gather the entire team’s attention, say something extremely inspirational that pointed back to the mission of The Resistance, and they would then fight together to defeat the challenge at hand.

While I know my description sounds very simple, leaders can use this fundamental tactic to be inspirational in the workplace. When I say supervisors in your organization should be “inspirational,” I do not mean that they have to be “touchy feely” or “emotional” in their leadership style. Leading with inspiration simply means reminding people of your company’s mission and reassuring them that the hard work they’re doing is making a difference. The good news for you not-so-emotional leaders: This tactic can be used no matter what your leadership style is!

Your team is going to get frustrated; sometimes they’re not going to understand the direction you’re taking them. But if leaders at all levels can figure out a way to inspire their teams, it is more likely that they will want to follow you to success. 
 

How to Practice Inspirational Leadership

  1. Always Lead With the “Why.”

    You’ve (hopefully) heard this a million times, but there was a great example of the importance of “leading with the why” in The Last Jedi. Admiral Holdo takes over the ship when General Leia is injured, and her plan is to lead the entire team to safety by removing them from the ship in tiny, smaller ships (because The First Order will not be looking for small ships). Great strategy, right? She even decides to sacrifice herself to stay behind and watch the large ship. She is so selfless!

    However, when she first steps in to lead after General Leia’s injury, she rules with an “iron fist,” telling the team how it is, without explaining the bigger picture or the “why” behind her plan. This causes both the audience and pilot Poe Dameron to be confused by her plan, and hesitant to follow her orders.

    If Holdo had communicated the “why” behind what she was doing much earlier, Poe would have been able to get behind her and support her faster - rather than being a rebel and putting the rest of their team at risk. Need more inspiration on how to “Lead with the Why?” Check out this video by Simon Sinek, How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
     
  2. Practice Inspiring in Meetings and Conversations.

    Being inspirational isn’t something we’re all born with. Being good at anything takes practice.

    Maybe you’re rolling out a new project for your department, explaining an organizational change, or having a conversation with a difficult employee. Think about how you can tie in your company’s mission to that presentation or conversation to really get your team fired up. Don’t just think about what gets you fired up about this topic, think about what’s going to get them motivated by explaining how it relates to THEM and WHY they should jump on board!

    Once you’ve thought through the main inspirational points you’d like to cover, practice, practice, practice. Practice empathy in your voice, practice explaining the “why” behind what you’re doing, and practice the end – the part that should leave your audience feeling ready to defeat anything in the galaxy, I mean workplace.
     
  3. Don’t Just Inspire Your Team… Inspire Everyone!

    Don’t forget about inspiring your community partners, sponsors, and clients too! Not only was The Resistance inspired by their leaders, the audience was inspired after watching! When you’re in the audience watching The Last Jedi, you can feel how passionate The Resistance leaders are about the work they’re doing for the galaxy, which inspires you to root for them throughout the film. Sorry, First Order.

    You can simply tell your clients and sponsors what makes your cause great or why they should choose you, but the real key is to inspire them to root for you. Help them understand why you do what you do so they can feel inspired to be a part of whatever it is that you’re fighting for.

The Force has both a dark, and a light side, just like leadership tactics. The dark side leads by telling the team what to do instead of inspiring them to do it. Unfortunately, this is a common type of leadership tactic because it is the easiest. Kylo Ren and General Hux both run The First Order this way - and, well, the way they run things is the entire reason that there is a Resistance group in the first place.
 

In Conclusion...

The Force has both a dark, and a light side, just like leadership tactics. The dark side leads by telling the team what to do instead of inspiring them to do it. Unfortunately, this is a common type of leadership tactic because it is the easiest. Kylo Ren and General Hux both run The First Order this way - and, well, the way they run things is the entire reason that there is a Resistance group in the first place.

Remind your team of your company’s mission - and remind them frequently.  Your mission is the “spark” that will get them engaged to do their best, and if you can inspire your team to follow you instead of telling them to, you will succeed together!

May the Force be with you in the workplace and always.







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Morgan Milbradt

Morgan Milbradt grew up on a farm in the cornfields of Minnesota, and has called Pensacola, Fla., her home since 2013. She graduated from Minnesota State University - Mankato in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in mass media along with minors in communication studies and marketing. She currently serves as the Sales and Social Media Specialist at LandrumHR. Morgan prides herself on her creative marketing brain, eye for design and organizational skills. Her professional interests include employee development, leadership, millennials in the workplace and workplace innovation. She was most recently named one of InWeekly's 2017 Rising Stars. When she’s not at work, you can find Morgan at the beach or lounging on the couch watching movies with her three favorite beings: Her boyfriend, Noah, and her two rescue cats, Luna and Grace.

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