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Leadership lessons from Star Trek

July 17, 2014

We all know the story of Star Trek—a racially diverse crew from all walks of life works together, enjoys camaraderie and collaboration, and goes where no man had gone before—broke Diversity & Inclusion boundaries way back in the sixties. And since then, decades of diverse Enterprise crews have set an extraordinary example of the value of diversity. But Star Trek teaches us valuable lessons in inclusive leadership as well.

The crew is comprised of different races, cultures, beliefs, learning styles, communication styles, intellectual ability, age and gender. The solutions they uncover are derived from the intentional vetting of ideas, recommendations, insights and comments. The crew is not only diverse but they are also expected to contribute routinely as an operational imperative.

This is why Enterprise captains have always been able to stave off the Klingons, destroy the Borg, and escape certain death, often at the last minute time and time again, by using critical insight from the crew, all of whom have diverse perspectives and obvious differences. They’ve been inclusive.

Personally, I’ve always been impressed by the “ready room” meetings captain Picard conducts in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Here he’s assembled his crew consisting of a black male Klingon (who’s not very senior I might add), a female half-human telepath, a white female chief medical officer, a black chief engineer, an android (not even a human being!) and white male officers. (Occasionally there are other crew members present that provide additional insight or expertise.)

Picard doesn’t say “Let me include Warf (the Klingon) so that he’ll be more engaged.” Picard includes Warf simply because he is a security expert and a warrior with unquestionable integrity and honor. Picard needs to hear from him! Inclusion is much more than a matter of political correctness. It’s mission critical.

Inclusive leadership is a big reason why the Enterprise can go where no man has gone before.

And inclusive leadership can help your company go where it hasn’t gone before too.

So let’s hear it. How inclusive is the bridge of your organization?

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