You have to admit it. For a little guy, Yoda was pretty impressive! Remember when he used the Force to lift Luke’s X-wing fighter out of the muck? I mean, really?
And Yoda wasn’t just all brawn. He was full of wisdom, wisdom that can be applied to a Corporate Galaxy right here, and right now. And, maybe you’re not training to become a Jedi Knight, but if you’re trying to learn how to become a better leader, then you can apply some of Yoda’s knowledge 1http://www.yodaquotes.net/ in your own Leadership Training Quest.
“You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned”
In training to become a leader, you must “untrain what you have trained”. Most leaders don’t become leaders overnight. Instead, they’re first part of an organization in some capacity at a lower level. And, when one is a part of something instead of looking down on it from above, one has a very different vantage point.
In particular, you’ll be mired in the day-to-day details. And leadership training requires you to forget about thinking about the organization in this way.
Indeed, the leader has to see the details in a more fuzzy manner so that he or she can grasp the bigger picture. If not, then the leader will never be able to see where the organization as a whole is heading.
Another problem which can occur if you don’t unlearn what you’ve learned on your Quest to becoming a great leader is that you will be prone to micro-managing. If you’re still “living in the details”, then any individual detail that isn’t right according to your vision will really bug you.
And, by dividing your attention between the big and small picture, the leader might miss the runaway train approaching the company as he or she is focusing on the proverbial bug on the windshield.
“Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they.”
Yoda once again is sharing some expert thoughts on leadership training. The Force in the corporate setting can be used to squash an employee. And, leaders can try to elicit fear out of their employees to get the job done. While this may work in the short term, the Dark Side never wins in the end.
In the Corporate Galaxy, leadership training that is focused on getting the most out of employees in a positive manner will ultimately win. Instead of fearing mistakes, employees will give it their all and go for it. And, the only way for real change to occur is to throw caution to the wind and take bold risks without fearing every forward step.
“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”
Leaders must learn that the future is always in motion. And, because of this, as a part of leadership training, leaders should be taught to be flexible in their thinking and open to the various possibilities that might unfold.
Blockbuster is an example of a company whose leaders weren’t trained to be flexible in their thinking. In 2004, there were 9,000 stores across the United States. However, just 11 years later2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbuster_LLC, that number dropped to 51.
What happened? Blockbuster failed to strategize for the impact of Netflix and Redbox, and as a result, lost about 95% of its business.
An important part of leadership training will then involve teaching a leader how to think about the business in its current context as well as how the business might fare in the future.
But, as the future is “always in motion”, the leader must also be trained to be flexible in his or her approach. Then, as the future draws nearer, the vision and direction should crystallize into action, with the process repeating itself.
“Control, control, you must learn control!”
Everyone remembers the 2004 Howard Dean scream. If only he had Yoda to guide him…
Leadership training involves learning how to control one’s emotions. Why? Because if a leader gets too emotional, then it sends a message to the rest of the organization that he or she is panicked. And, if the most powerful person in the organization shows fear, then how do you think it will make the rank and file feel?
With the above said, nobody wants to be led by a robot. Employees need to be able to relate to the leader on a human level. So, though it strongly advised for leaders to control their emotions, it should still be evident that passion for the company is flowing through their veins.
To learn how to control one’s emotions, part of leadership training could involve taking some type of acting class. Actors are masters of their emotions, turning them on and off at will while still remaining in control. And, though this probably seems like a non-traditional training approach, why not learn a thing or two from the Jedi Masters of Emotional Control?
“Already know you that which you need.”
This last bit of advice seems to contradict giving any advice at all. Why would a leader need leadership training if he or she already knows what needs to be known? Yoda was saying that to use the Force (or to be a great leader!), one needs to spend some time looking inwards. In training to be a leader, one needs to learn how to become centered and self-aware. And, to do this, some time has to be spent in self-reflection.
One way to do this is through Meditation. Meditation can elicit visions of sitting alone in a cave for 30 years, or reciting “Ohm, Ohm, Ohm…” over and over again. But, in reality, Meditation is simply a (powerful!) tool to gain “awareness”. By meditating, you can actually become aware of your thoughts, and this gives you the power to change them. And when you have control over our own thoughts, then you truly understand the Force!
And, while there are many approaches to Meditation, one approach is to simply sit, and pay attention to your breath. For the uninitiated, this might seem like a pointless exercise. But, if a leader does this every day as a part of a leadership training regimen, then he or she will begin to notice thought patterns. Recognizing the patterns then gives the leader the choice to change old destructive patterns into new constructive ones.
And, if you don’t believe that this would be helpful, it might help to know that you’d be in the company of Oprah Winfrey and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff3http://www.businessinsider.com/ceos-who-meditate-2012-5?op=1, two CEO’s who are part of the Meditation community.
If Yoda were around today, I have no doubt that he would be one of the most sought after leadership trainers on the circuit. And, even if you can’t hire him, you can still become inspired by his words of wisdom in your own personal Quest to become a great leader.
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