Five Leadership Lessons from Jean-Luc Picard (2023)

"He would ensure the safety of his ship and crew

And then complete the mission

And make yourself a better person

Bring peace to the galaxy

And that for free

Oh yes, Captain Picard would do that."

- from "What Would Captain Picard Do?" fromHank Green

Jean-Luc Picard on the bridge.

CBS über Getty Images
(Video) Lessons in leadership: Lie Of Omission

Captain Jean-Luc Picard is the model of a great Starfleet Captain of the 24th Century. Under his supervision, the crew of the Enterprise successfully defended humanity against the judgment of the Q-Continuum, defeated the Borg, prevented the Romulans from establishing a puppet government in the Klingon Empire, and encountered countless new species.

Although Captain Picard's style was very different from Captain Kirk's, he was also an incredibly successful leader. Here are five leadership lessons to take with you from Picard's journeys as you take your organization on a journey to boldly go where no one has gone before.

1. Talk to people in the language they understand. (Or it's okay to threaten a Klingon.)

“In my experience, communication is a matter of patience and imagination. I want to believe that we have these qualities in sufficient measure.”

One of Captain Picard's greatest challenges during his travels was the problem of communications. Even at a time when universal translators could translate virtually any language imaginable, communication is more than just a question of language. The various races that Picard encountered had their own cultures, customs, and values. To work effectively with them, he mastered the ability to communicate with them on his own terms. When challenged by Klingons, he had no problem looking them in the face and swearing at them. In Klingon culture, that's how you earn respect. When confronted by the Sheliak, who refused to give him more time to relocate colonists to a planet they wanted, he forced concessions from them through their hyper-detailed, legalistic negotiating tactics.

Perhaps no episode, however, shows Picard's willingness to put himself in someone else's shoes than "Darmok". In this episode, Picard and his crew meet up with an alien race known as the Children of Tama. Though the ship's translators could make their words understandable, their language was not, built entirely around metaphors and allusions to their myths. Noticing this, the Tamarian captain kidnapped Picard and abandoned them both on a world where they could face a common enemy. Over the course of their battles, Picard managed to learn and understand the Tamarian language, paving the way for greater understanding between the Tamarians and the Federation.

Perhaps one of the key skills for any good leader is the ability to empathize with and understand the people they work with, both within their team and outside their organizations. This is especially true in a globalized world. People contribute not only their skills, but also their experiences, personalities and cultures. Understanding these cultures and experiences will enable you to communicate effectively.

(Video) Good Leaders Ask For Opinions

2. When overwhelmed, ask for help.

"You wanted to scare us. We are scared. You wanted to show us that we are inadequate. I'll admit that for now. You wanted me to say 'I need you'?"

One of Picard's constant antagonists was Q, a near-omnipotent being whose judgments about humanity underpin both the first and last entries in the TV series. A particularly memorable episode ofStar Trek: The Next Generationwas "Q Who?" where Q, in a fit of rage, sent the Enterprise light years away from where it made the Federation's first contact with the Borg. The Borg are a race of cybernetic beings who share a collective consciousness. As they encounter new worlds, they assimilate the technology and people of the planets into themselves. Their technology was years ahead of the Federation, and it became clear that there was no way the Enterprise could win the battle and save itself.

So Picard asked Q for help, which Q granted.

This is a difficult thing. Especially in our individualistic American culture, where there is a certain level of expectation that you will solve your problems on your own. This kind of independence is far from a bad trait — in fact, the ability to be independent is an important skill for leaders. But just as important is having enough confidence to know when you're overwhelmed, when the odds are against you, and when you know you can't win the fight alone. In such situations, a prudent guide will ask for help.

That's something that seems obvious, isn't it? But how many of us have refused to acknowledge that we need help at some point in our lives? How many of us have been on teams led by someone who was overwhelmed but unwilling to seek advice? It takes a lotTrustadmit that you need help. As Q told Picard after Picard asked for help, "That was a difficult admission. Another man would have been humiliated to say those words. Another man would have died rather than ask for help.” How many of us have been on projects doomed to fail because the project leader was too proud or too blind to ask for help?

When the time came, Picard wasn't afraid to ask for help. That allowed him and his crew to fight another day - and that day themtatDefeat the Borg. When the time comes, a good leader will have the same confidence to ask for help so they too can fight another day.

3. Always value ethical actions over meaningful ones.

"There are times, sir, when people with a clear conscience cannot blindly obey orders."

Organizational leaders often face ethical dilemmas – times when it seems the easiest option is to “bend the rules a little” to get things done. Captain Picard was faced with such a decision several times. But Picard had a strong moral core, and he refused to do the wrong thing—even when that seemed the easiest thing to do.

(Video) Captain Picard's best inspirational speeches

One such opportunity was in one of the seminal episodes ofStar Trek: The Next Generation, "measure of a man." In this episode, Starfleet had Lt. Ordered Commander Data, an android, to disassemble and experiment in hopes that Starfleet could make more androids to put them at risk on dangerous missions so members of other species, such as humans, would do it. not be exposed to the dangers of space travel. Complying with this request would have been the easiest thing. After all, how many friends had Picard lost during his years in Starfleet. It must have seemed wonderful to him that there was a way to prevent such deaths. Starfleet did not recognize the rights of androids - for them, data was just property.

Rather than simply taking the easy way out, however, Picard realized that Data was a sentient being who deserved the rights of other members of the Federation. He passionately championed Data's case at a Starfleet hearing, pointing out that creating a race of sentient beings forced into dangerous situations would be tantamount to reintroducing slavery. His argument was compelling, prompting Starfleet and the Federation to respect Data's rights. This paved the way for the later recognition by the Federation of the rights of other sentient artificial intelligences.

In your own job you will probably never come across a situation where you have to convince the government to recognize a new sentient species. (If you have this job, that's great, and please email me for an interview.) But in leadership situations, there are a number of temptations to do the wrong thing to look better, whether by cutting corners, to get a to beat schedule or game counts to keep your scores looking good. In these times, we should look to Picard as an example of maintaining our integrity, regardless of the short-term cost. Integrity counts in the long term.

4. Challenge your team to help them grow.

"Lieutenant, you are a member of this crew and you will not hide if a Klingon ship decloaks!"

Complacency is often the greatest challenge a well-managed team can face. When you have a great team where everyone is fulfilling their roles and doing a good job, it's pretty easy to just let things be as they are and rest on inertia. Trouble is, when you have a complacent team, no matter how competent, it can fall apart when faced with a big challenge. To keep your organization agile, it's important to encourage your teams to expand their skillset, even if they're uncomfortable with it.

One of the more obscure but favorite episodes of mine is "The Ensigns of Command," in which Picard ordered Data to a planet where Federation citizens had illegally colonized a planet owned by the Sheliak. Data's job was to get the colonists to evacuate before the Sheliak came because they would kill all the colonists when they arrived. Now, dealing with a group of passionate people fighting for their home wasn't in Data's comfort zone. Finally, as an android, Data had no emotions and was often confused by them. But during that encounter, Data learned what it took to convince a hostile, emotional group of his way of thinking. That's a lesson that pays dividends later in a future episode when Data was assigned to command a ship with officers who were prejudiced against him for being an android. Without that prior experience, Data might have found it much harder to command this ship and they might not have successfully completed their mission.

Similarly, after Worf lost his honor to prevent the Klingon Empire from going to war, Picard still insisted that Worf take care of the Klingons who came to the Enterprise. He did so, although for Worf, facing other Klingons while being dishonored caused him much grief and shame. By facing his people, Worf emerged from the end of his time of shame as a much stronger Klingon, and later in bothThe next generationAndDeep Space Nine, Worf was far more inclined to follow his conscience, even if it shamed him in front of Klingons. In other words, Picard helped Worf become a stronger and more capable man.

When you have someone on your team who is doing their job well, it can be difficult to assign them new or more difficult tasks that shake up your organization. But to be an effective leader, youneedto shake them up so your team is more resilient and effective when faced with tougher crises.

5. Don't play it safe - seize opportunities in front of you.

(Video) 5 Leadership Lessons from Star Trek and Captain Kirk

"Use the time... - live now! Always make the most precious time now. Now it will never come back."

Captain Picard has a reputation for being a more cautious captain than James T. Kirk, and in some ways that reputation is well deserved. After all, Kirk took command of his Enterprise at the age of 31, while Picard was 59 when he took command of the Enterprise - D. But Picard also had more responsibilities than Kirk. In Picard's day, a starship housed not only members of Starfleet, but also the families of Starfleet personnel and their children. Hehadto be a little more careful in some situations. But Picard's caution wasn't that of a coward or someone wanting to play it safe. Rather, it was the caution of a brave man whose youthful recklessness was tempered by wisdom.

There are a number of occasions when Picard has been willing to take significant risks in order to seize opportunities and secure victory for his ship and the Federation, and when he took those risks, he took them resolutely. That ambition and willingness to take advantage of opportunities in front of him stems from an incident when he was at the academy. He then became involved in a bar fight that resulted in his heart being shattered and young Picard nearly dying. To the end of his days he had an artificial heart instead of the one he was born with.

In the episode "Tapestry", Picard has a near-death experience where he is visited by Q. Q gives him an opportunity to change one thing in his life, and Picard chooses to avoid the fight that lost his heart. At this point, Picard is thrust into the timeline that is the result of this act. In this timeline, Picard never rose above the rank of lieutenant. He never got a command because he had no goals. he drifted. He played it safe. And in the end his life wasn't worth much. As Q put it to him when Picard requested that this new life be taken away:

“The Jean-Luc Picard you wanted to be, who did NOT fight the Nausicaans, had a very different career than the one you remember. never realized how fragile life is or how important every moment must be. So his life never came into focus. He drifted through much of his career without a plan or agenda. He went from one assignment to the next without taking the opportunities that presented themselves. He never led the away team on Milika III to rescue the ambassador or take over the Stargazer's bridge when their captain was killed. And nobody ever offered him a command. He's learned to play it safe. And he never, was ever noticed by anyone."

It's easy to get stuck like this alternate Picard. You can get your work done and go home at the end of the day with no real plan or goal - just idle while letting other people tell you what to do. The lesson Picard learned from this experience is the same one we should learn for ourselves. Life is short and the time we lose is time we will never get back. When opportunities arise, we must seize them. We must move forward in our lives, careers and projects with goals and be ambitious to achieve those goals.

Picard didn't want to look back on a lifetime of boring excellence without distinction, risk, or achievement. He told Q that he would rather die than live another day like this. This is an important lesson to apply to our own lives - we mustconfiscatefor us. Nobody will do it for us.

Final take away:

HowJames T. Kirk, Captain Jean-Luc Picard embodied several leadership lessons that we can use in our own lives. We must learn to empathize with others so that we can communicate effectively with them. We must have the confidence to ask for help when we are overwhelmed without feeling humiliated. When given the choice offered by a famous magician between "the right and the easy," we must do the right thing. We must challenge our teams to grow and change so they can adapt to any situation. We need to seize opportunities when they come, lest we slip through life. Follow these lessons and they will take us to the next level of exploration. Which, in the words of Q on the show, means "not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but mapping the unknown possibilities of existence."

follow meTwitterorFacebook. Read my Forbes blogHere.

(Video) Everything I needed to know about leadership, I learned from Jean-Luc Picard


What is Jean-Luc Picard's leadership style? ›

The visionary leader

Captain Jean-Luc Picard always promotes a clear vision of what Starfleet is all about. He motivates his crew members to be the best they can be can empowers them with the knowledge they need to get out there and make it so.

What leadership lessons can we glean from Star Trek? ›

6 Leadership Lessons from Star Trek
  • Be decisive. Leading people into far-off solar systems isn't for the wishy-washy. ...
  • There are many styles of effective leadership. ...
  • STEM is the future. ...
  • Diversity is a strength. ...
  • You must believe in your crew. ...
  • Set a course.

Is Captain Picard a good leader? ›

Going beyond mere bravery and displaying an adventurous nature, he exhibits the finely honed skills of a true leader with both compassion and class. This article sets forth to discuss those qualities that make Picard such a beloved character and fan-favorite.

What are the qualities of Jean-Luc Picard? ›

Jean-Luc Picard maintains a professional and serious tone even when he is off-duty. While very respectful of others as individuals, open-minded and charming, he remains very self-composed and even somewhat distant emotionally.

What are the 4 basic leadership theory? ›

The four major leadership theories being addressed are: (1) Transformational Leadership Theory, (2) Transactional Leadership Theory, (3) Charismatic Leadership Theory, and (4) Fiedler's Contingency Theory.

What are the lessons for leaders? ›

13 leadership lessons
  • Talk less and listen more. ...
  • Understand each position in your organization. ...
  • Encourage growth. ...
  • Take care of your team members. ...
  • Be a source of inspiration. ...
  • Accept and respond to feedback. ...
  • Learn to be adaptable and flexible. ...
  • Monitor your health to avoid burnout.
Dec 16, 2022

What are the 4 teachable leadership skills according to Brene? ›

Brené Brown, as detailed in her book Dare to Lead, there are four skillsets for courageous leadership.
  • Rumbling With Vulnerability.
  • Living Your Values (Rather Than Simply Professing Them)
  • Braving Trust (And Being The First To Trust)
  • Learning To Rise.
Jan 10, 2019

What are the lessons that leadership teaches us? ›

10 things I learned about leadership
  • Be transparent and consistent about your core principles and values. ...
  • Be genuine. ...
  • Have a clear purpose. ...
  • Know yourself (and especially what you are not good at) ...
  • Treat everyone fairly, but that doesn't mean treating everyone the same. ...
  • Build effective and respectful teams.
Aug 16, 2022

What syndrome does Captain Picard have? ›

In that future, Picard suffered from a neurological disorder called Irumodic Syndrome, which will slowly rob him of his faculties and the ability to tell reality from fantasy, before finally killing him.

How to be more like Jean-Luc Picard? ›

Lessons on Leadership from Captain Jean-Luc Picard
  1. He's puts trust in his people and doesn't interfere.
  2. He mentors and encourages more Junior members of the crew, giving them responsibilities above their pay grade to challenge and stretch them.
  3. He's all about completing the mission without endangering the crew.
Nov 9, 2022

Is Picard a good role model? ›

2 GOOD: Jean-Luc Picard (TNG) Continues To Be An Excellent Role Model. For over three decades, Jean-Luc Picard has been a role model to both Starfleet and the Federation. Few commanders have his combination of diplomacy, stature, and willingness to die trying.

Who turned down the role of Jean-Luc Picard? ›

Edward James Olmos

A few years later, Olmos was offered the role of Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Battlestar Galactica Panel, FedCon XIV, 24 May 2015; [17]) He had to turn it down as he was busy with other projects. [18] His Hollywood Walk of Fame star is right next to Patrick Stewart's.

What is Captain Picard known for? ›

An accomplished diplomat and tactician, Picard managed to surpass a 22-year career as first officer and later captain of the U.S.S. Stargazer with an even more impressive record as captain of the fleet's former flagship U.S.S. Enterprise.

Who is Captain Picard based on? ›

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry named Picard for (one or both of) the twin brothers Auguste Piccard and Jean Piccard, 20th-century Swiss scientists.

What are the Air Force leadership styles? ›

Figure 1 illustrates the four leadership styles: (1) directing, (2) supporting, (3) coaching, and (4) delegating, as well as the two behaviors: (1) supportive and (2) directing. An additional factor for supervisors to consider is the developmental level of their subordinates.

How does the Air Force define leadership? ›

2. Describe what the three components of the Air Force's definition of leadership mean, in your own words. The Air Force defines leadership as “the art and science of. influencing and directing people to accomplish the assigned. mission.”

What leadership style does Jocko Willink use? ›

Delegating and Decentralizing Command

Jocko Willink believes in decentralizing command which means giving responsibilities to your team members instead of trying to do everything yourself. It is a good idea for you as the leader to put people into positions where they can excel based on their skills and abilities.

What is Newtonian leadership? ›

Newtonian leadership thinking assumes that organizations and markets, like machines, are predictable, stable, and controllable. Newtonian organizations are structured into separate areas of expertise, with distinct divisions that are often in competition.


1. This is how diplomacy is done.
2. Data Explains How To Be Second In Command
3. Captain Picard Explaining Progress
(April 5, 2063)
4. Why We Love Jean-Luc Picard
(Completing The Shelf)
5. Captain Picard: The Role Model We Need
(Ryan's Edits)
6. Inspirational Speeches of Trek


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated: 30/05/2023

Views: 6471

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.