When we look for inspiration for leadership, people that we should look to and, potentially, learn from and follow. I think it’s important that we don’t discount fictional characters.
When we write stories, we write about characters that are based on ideals, characters that are everything that we want to be. We weave into those characters strengths, weaknesses, ideals, ethics, and beliefs. We create characters based upon how we feel about people, how we feel people should be.
Fiction is the world we wish we lived in with the leadership we wish we had
As consumers of stories, we are often drawn to those stories that have characters that we can relate to. More often than not, when we relate to those characters, it’s not because they’re like who we are in the real world. It’s because they represent what we would like to be, and what we feel we should be. Those characters, they embody the strength that we wish we had, the fortitude, the intellect, the empathy, the compassion. Those characters, they are what we dream of being.
One such character for me was Jack O’Neill from the Stargate franchise.
The epitome of leadership
I grew up with Stargate. Both the movie, and the TV shows that came from it. There were two versions of O’Neill. In the movie, O’Neill was played by Kurt Russell and he was stoic, he was strong, he was the ultimate warrior.
He was also a person who was driven to do the right thing. He was plagued by the hardship of loss, but also managed to draw strength from that loss. In the TV shows. O’Neil was very different. He was played by Richard Dean Anderson, the TV version of O’Neill was playful, he was sarcastic, he was fun. But he too always did the right thing. He too was strong, he was empathetic and compassionate, He also was an extremely skilled and capable warrior. The TV version obviously had more time to flesh out the character. You can only give a character so much depth in a movie. Because of the amount of time that you have to tell that story.
Kurt Russell’s delivery in the movie, added further depth to that character and was nothing short of phenomenal
The TV version of O’Neill was someone with true leadership skills
He had a team of people around him. Their strengths were his weaknesses. He was intelligent, very intelligent, in fact, but he was no scientist. He was compassionate and empathetic. But, he was no anthropologist. He was strong, willful, and capable of single mindedness but he was always open to new ideas.
O’Neill was surrounded by people in his team that had strengths where he had weaknesses. In every situation that he faced he always deferred to the strengths of the members of his team. With that being said, the final decision always remained with him. He would consult his team for guidance and advice. But the responsibility of the decision making process remained with him. That was his strength, his number one strength. To make the hard decisions when they need to be made to separate himself from the situation and enable the right decision to be made, regardless of his own feelings.
He was able to utilise the strengths of his team to inform his decision making process. He was also able to support the weaknesses of the members of his team, to enable them to be the most productive and effective members of his team that they could possibly be.
We could all learn a thing or two from O’Neill, from both versions of O’Neill. Jack O’Neill was a true leader. A leader which we could all aspire to be. and very few of us truly achieve.
Leadership isn’t about being in charge, it is about making the right call at the right time.
Leadership is about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team, to be able to get the best out of your team, and to support them in the best way possible.
It is about understanding the problem that you face and allowing yourself the space to put your ego to one side and defer to the expertise of those around you.
Leadership truly is a skill, a skill that many misinterpret and misunderstand. It is all too easy for leadership to become about telling people what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
True leadership is none of those things
True leadership is something completely alien to those who view it as an opportunity to gain power over people, true leadership is about serving your team, supporting your team, and enabling your team. It is never about de-powering your team members, it is never about dominating people, and it is never about bolstering your own fragile ego.
Who do you look up to in the world of fiction? What characters inspire you to be a better leader in your own life? I would love to hear about it. Head over to my company website and drop me a message and let me know. https://mikethebizguy.co.uk/Contact
Taking lessons from the characters that inspire us and integrating them into our own lives takes a good measure of self awareness, something that I have previously written about https://mybizacademy.co.uk/be-more-self-aware-its-not-hard