“Yoda” Leader

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By: Center For Worklife - Expert Reviewer

“Yoda” Leader

Harvard Business Review recently published a list of ten charts from 2013. The list included a Senior Manager’s Fatal Flaws chart from Zenger Folkman which revealed that the biggest flaw in management is lacking the ability to develop others. This symptom can branch from lack of understanding when it comes to the skills of leadership verses those of management, which Emma Watson’s character, Hermione, clears up in Hermione: Management or Leadership?

But understanding the difference isn’t the final piece of the puzzle. With the management skills statistic in mind going into 2014, it would serve professionals well to think green when it comes to their resolutions. This kind of thinking green has nothing to do with the environment, but rather Yoda from Star Wars. Yoda’s leadership in teaching Luke to become a Jedi brilliantly showcases his ability to foster growth in others. For Senior Managers, Executives, Accountants or any other role, the ability to mentor and empower peers is rewarding in many ways. While it might sound like an elusive ability to gain, it is possible.

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Table of Contents

Leadership Tips: Developing Others

  1. Be Attentive
    At times during Luke’s training, he doubted himself, and there were moments that he could barely keep going. Yoda was persistent and present, which enabled him to identify Luke’s struggles and offer solutions. Presence leads to shared gain, while absence leaves an unwanted stain. In 5 Keys For Developing Talent In Your Organization published by Forbes, Contributor Drew Hansen reported that President of Mc-Graw Hill Higher Education, Brian Kibby, wakes up early to take care of personal tasks, then focuses the rest of the day on his people. He schedules 15 minute blocks to have discussions with everyone in his company. This establishes a culture of strong communication, nurturing and growth. When this method of connection isn’t plausible, there are other opportunities for maintaining presence and attentiveness.
  2. Speak Truth
    Realistically speaking, Yoda is a small, green, odd-looking creature who is a bit goofy. And yet, Luke learned quickly to take him seriously. Because Yoda spoke the truth and wasn’t afraid to address deep topics, Luke realized he could learn from him. This is true for leaders in the work place. It is impossible to speak wisdom into someone’s life if they are kept at arm’s length. Leaders who are transparent and real on a daily basis empower their mentees to behave in the same way, and become leaders themselves.
  3. Emphasize Value
    In the process of staying in-tune with others, leaders pick up on their core values. This offers an opportunity to help others realize their own values and keep them on track. When Luke discovers Leia and Han are in trouble, his instinct is to attempt a rescue immediately. While their safety is important, Yoda reminds Luke of his values:

Luke: And sacrifice Han and Leia? 
Yoda: If you honor what they fight for? Yes.

Improving leadership skills and developing others does not happen in a single day. This is a process that takes time and dedication and sometimes even professional coaching. Going into the New Year, remember what Yoda would say “Do or do not, there is no try.”

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