Business, Culture and Entrepreneurship

Monday, August 25, 2008

Capt Kirk's Leadership Style - Is it right for entrepreneurs?

A casual search of the blogosphere, with the words "Capt. Kirk" and leadership spews a long list of largely positive descriptions of Capt. Kirk's leadership style. In fact, a secondary school principal, has actually written a referred article on Captain Kirk, His Leadership Style as a Model for Principals in the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) Bulletin!

For those of us old enough to have caught William Shatner as Capt. Kirk, admiration is usually the first response (especially if we were lucky enough to miss the ads - I had to move out of the country for this). Capt. Kirk cut a dashing figure - a man who surrounded himself with smarter folks (Spock the scientific officer, Bones the Doc and Scotty the engineer), always prepared to lead from the front and always got the girl! I am sure I am not the only 40+ fella who wished he were in Capt Kirk's shoes, when we first encountered him.

Albert J. Bernstein and Sydney Craft Rozen, in their book "Dinosaur Brains - Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work" speak of cheering Capt. Kirk as he staved off an attack by the Romulans, even as he just recovered from a problem of rapid aging. "What a manager!" was their first feeling. Then they began wondering "Or was he?" They go on to say:

In our culture there is some confusion between management and heroics. The distinction is quite simple: The hero handles everything single-handedly; the manager delegates. If a manager is indispensable, is he or she really managing?
What is true for managers is truer (in spades) for entrepreneurs, who inevitably are in leadership roles which they play all too often from Capt Kirk's heroics' handbook! I am certainly competent to speak, having been an adrenaline junkie till recently (others may argue I still am) - always charging off (in my strapped sandals, we don't have much use for steeds, white or any other color) to solve problems. Luckily having great people around me, who were neither shy nor too polite, cured me off this, I'd like to think. However, as Capt. Kirk himself has shown, having good people ("Dammit Jim, I'm a doctor not a miracle worker!") around is not a sufficient reason for not falling into the "I'm here and will take care of everything" habit.

So stop for a moment and take a look at the ol' mug in the nearest mirror and ask yourself "Am I a leader or merely a hero?