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Leadership Lessons from the Star Wars Revival

Leadership is not one thing. It is a composite of experience, instinct, influence and circumstances. One could say it is a composite of nature and nurture. It is much like archetypes and powerful themes we explore like the Star Wars saga. We can evolve as leaders like our favorite story characters.
Consider the timeless tales, many of which Disney Studios have enlivened, like The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and the Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Fantasia). Taken from the oral, around the fire tradition, stories are ways people teach and learn. Stories are colorfully pictorial, so they have a lasting impact. Likely, this visual effect stems from human infancy when we do not have language to express ourselves, but we do have mental pictures.
The fascination with super heroes like Superman and the Marvel characters feeds our need to feel protected by such archetypes. Humanly, we look outside of ourselves for that because there is an innate sense of vulnerability and awareness of our own death. The archetypes are universal and present in every culture. In fact, research shows the Cinderella story is likely an old East Indian tale that was adapted into Western culture. Study of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell provide the intricacies of the power of these symbols.
Star Wars continues this heroic, bigger than life, saga of finding “guardians” as leaders, to feel more secure, and follow our invisible quests. It is part of the American culture across multiple generations. The new characters will make their own place in the story for the newest generation.
So, what are the lessons offered in these stories?
The Force is invisible and has to be felt internally to be effective. Like a leader, one has to rely on our inner guidance and intuition. How is that different than courage or confidence?
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Remember, the Wizard of Oz, (recently brought up to date with The Wiz on television)? The characters sought traits and conditions outside of themselves. They did not look internally, and ultimately realize they possessed all along what they wanted. Dorothy had the ability to click her heels the entire time, but she did not know how to use them. This archetype is alive and well today. The shoes could be technology or information, but success is in how we apply it.
In the original story, Luke Skywalker has to embark on the hero’s journey(Joseph Campbell’s idea) to develop into a mature young man. He meets his characters, villains and heroes, along the way to temper his strengths and reveal “truths.” His purpose is to develop mastery of the Force and resonate to the internal power. Yoda, the lovable guru mentor, presents the riddles of life, much like the oracles in our ancient world. Religion evolves to offer a structure as we tread our own paths.
Another Star Wars theme is the duality of man’s nature, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’s personas. Aniken, better known as Darth Vader, represents this theme. The fact that Vader reveals to Luke that he is his father presents a dilemma for Luke. The revelation shows how Luke can make choices and is not condemned to repeat his father’s mistakes. He matures and becomes his own person.
Princess Leah is another duality influence, and brings the feminine energy to the story, the yin and yang balance. She and Luke have a mystical pull toward each other; at first viewed as romantic, only to discover their sibling relationship, a tie that binds. Leah picks Hans Solo as her love interest. Her journey from privileged royalty, to slavery, and then freedom, is her personal journey as well.
The robots exhibit very human characteristics; C3PO and R2D2 are anthropomorphized. They communicate and overtly care about their human connections. They willingly put themselves in harm’s way, like our pets can do, to be part of the family and have a sense of belonging.
The new Star Wars generation has more diversity and reflects changes in our society. This may be a teaching tool for our times with all the chaos surrounding us. I am eager to see the new story and listen to the rousing John Williams’ theme!


As a credentialed business coach and analyst, one of my primary functions is to work with individuals and company managers to clarify where they are presently, where they would like to advance, and what tools they have and need to achieve their desired outcome.

I use a variety of tools to assess perceptions including Platinum Rule instruments, my experience and training in assessing behavior. My preferred tool is the EQ-i®, emotional intelligence inventory. I have specialized training on the EQ-i® and DISC Inventories and access to multiple other sources including a company culture index. I prefer the EQ-i® because it is the least judgmental instrument I have found. It focuses on strengths and areas of development related to the goals set by the individual. For example, people are more likely to apply the EQ-i®’s information rather than label themselves by the Myers-Briggs categories.

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