CAPTAIN JAMES TIBERIUS KIRK OF THE USS ENTERPRISE
Captain Kirk embodies what may be considered exemplary management and leadership. Rosalind Cardinals describes successful management as having ”a broad repertoire of styles” and the ability ”to use them appropriately. Kirk is passionate about the Enterprise and her mission, the goals and objectives ‘’to boldly go where no man has gone before’’. Kirk is Captain and he accountable for achieving this vision.
Kirk most frequently employed a consultative style of management. He did not surround himself with ‘yes men’. His two main advisors were Dr. Spock, a logical Vulcan and Dr Leonard McCoy, a compassionate and scientific human being. Although their advise was often conflicting, Kirk encouraged it and made a final decision himself. ‘’One of the advantages of being a captain, Doctor, is being able to ask for advice without necessarily having to take it.’’
However there were occasions where he needed to use a chaotic style of management, for example when ‘warp speed’ was required to escape and the Enterprise had been hit, Kirk gave directions to engineering but left them to achieve it by themselves.
In this regard a vital quality in a good manager is to have belief in oneself and not to be afraid of those who have expertise in other areas, but to seek out talent and knowledge to achieve the goals of the company, or Starship!
Kirk was an engaging manager, he successfully fostered both high levels of performance and employee engagement. The McLeod report in 2009 found that this was the case in many successful companies. Kirk had a lifelong desire for knowledge and learning and an ability to commit. He utilised this when he made a makeshift shotgun and fought Captain Gorn successfully. Although he treated Captain Gorn with sympathy, he was ruthless when he battled Khan Noonien Singh. Kirk’s style of management led by example, he encouraged the crew to learn and develop their abilities. He never became too distanced from those he was managing and put himself in the front line on many occasions.
The crew knew that the Captain was capable of making hard decisions, one of which led to the destruction of the Enterprise in Star Trek III in order to defeat the Klingons. Management must be able to make these decisions as times change and business needs change. Kirk knew this and when Spock advised him in a situation which appeared hopeless that they should use strategy, like in the game of chess, Kirk responded by saying ‘’Not chess, Mr. Spock. Poker. Do you know the game?’’
This backs up another aspect to the successful management of the Starship by Kirk, the ability to take the lead and take chances, as Kirk said, ‘’Intuition, however illogical, is recognized as a command prerequisite’’. If the decision doesn’t work out then the course must be changed but fear must never be a reason for not making a choice. Neither fear nor another attempting to bully him would force Kirk into a decision he did not believe in. He believed in the greater good and that ‘’There are certain things, men must do to remain men’’. (As Kirk treated all his crew equally regardless of race or gender one could suggest here he was referring to the integrity of the individual not the gender.)
Kirk managed his crew and ship successfully into many unknown and unpredictable situations. Any company can consider their own expansion in a similar light as nothing is permanent and we live in an ever changing and innovative world. Successful Managers need to continue learning, encourage innovation and creativity, listen to advice from a variety of people and sources, understand, motivate and care about their team. Finally a truly good Manager must have integrity, trust is essential to providing the freedom for expression and mistakes, integral elements to development. No one style of management encompasses all situations and all individual and so Kirk adapted his accordingly.