Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 4 Leadership Lessons, Quote by Quote

Posted on January 5th, 2018

Welcome to January! We hope that 2018 is going to be a prosperous year for you and your business, and that you are excited about the year ahead. But whatever your goals for the new year we can still hold on to the memory of the festive season – including its more memorable cinematic experiences.

For the past few years at LDL we, in our capacity as a management training consultancy, have been writing leadership blogs about the latest instalments in the Star Wars franchise. We wrote a list of Leadership Do’s and Don’ts for the first film that Disney released (Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Leadership Do’s and Don’ts) in 2015. And then last year we wrote a detailed blog about leadership on film in the context of the Star Wars: Rogue One movie (Leadership on Film: 5 Lessons from Star Wars: Rogue One).

Well the saga continues, and with the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in December we thought we’d have a go at continuing the tradition. Who knows how long this can go on for!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars last Jedi

The latest film continues where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off – on the Light Side of the Force, budding Jedi and female lead Rey has found Luke Skywalker and is going to try to secure his help for the struggling Rebel Alliance. On the Dark Side meanwhile, the forces of the evil First Order go from strength to strength under the management of Supreme Leader Snoke, assisted by a slightly conflicted Kylo Ren.

The film offers plenty of twists and turns, but by the end (spoiler alert!) a little balance has been restored with a frustrated Kylo Ren now in charge of the First Order (having sneakily killed Supreme Leader Snoke) and Rey well on her way to becoming a Jedi and replacing Luke Skywalker (who dies after an amazing feat of long-distance Jedi magic).

Below is a selection of quotes from the film, including the leadership lessons that can be drawn from them…

4 Leadership Lessons, Quote by Quote

Lesson 1

Poe Dameron: “There were heroes on that mission”

Leia: “Dead heroes”

The film begins with an explosive action sequence as maverick X-wing pilot Poe Dameron tries to lead a mission to destroy an enemy Dreadnought – a very big space ship. Poe is pretty skilled in the cockpit of his fighter, and is determined to destroy the Dreadnought, whatever the cost may be.

Poe: “We have a chance to take out a Dreadnought. These things are fleet killers. We can’t let it get away!”

Princess Leia, who is now General Leia Organa, tries to restrain her captain, ordering him to disengage – but to no avail. She then watches helplessly as the entirety of her bomber fleet is destroyed trying to blow up the enemy ship.

Poe was right that the Dreadnought is a dangerous ship which the Alliance should seek to destroy, and they do just about manage to destroy it. But the First Order likely has dozens of these ships, and the small Rebel bomber fleet probably should have been saved for a more strategic mission. So what does Leia do to Poe? She demotes him.

Leia: “You’re demoted.”

Poe: “What? Wait. We took down a dreadnought.”

Leia: “At what cost?”

Poe: “You start an attack, you follow it through.”

Leia: “Poe, get your head out of your cockpit. There are things you cannot solve by jumping in your X-wing and blowing something up. I need you to learn that.”

Poe: “There were heroes on that mission.”

Leia: “Dead heroes.”

What is the leadership lesson here? Don’t be a hothead and don’t rope others into ill-conceived escapades. Instead try to take responsibility for your actions and their impact on others and the organisation as a whole.

Lesson 2

Supreme Leader Snoke: “You are no Vader. You are just a child in a mask.”

Ridiculing your staff is never a very good idea, even if you are the Supreme Leader of a successful organisation. Things are no different for Snoke – the evil, rather weird ‘emperor’ figure of the recent instalments.

Perhaps Snoke was seeking merely to madden his apprentice Kylo Ren so as to further consolidate his conversion to the Dark Side of the Force. But the Dark Side, dominated as it is by fear, anger and egomania, is not trustworthy, and Kylo turns on Snoke when he is given the opportunity, destroying his ‘true enemy’ with a sneaky light sabre move.

Leadership lesson: don’t ridicule staff, it doesn’t work. Instead seek to build their self-confidence and engagement with praise and encouragement.

Lesson 3

Rey: “I need someone to show me my place in all this.”

Rey has some work to do when she arrives at Luke Skywalker’s remote hideaway to convince the old Jedi master to teach her the ways of the Jedi. Luke is a reluctant teacher and it takes him a little time to accede to Rey’s requests.

Throughout this time Rey is struggling to ‘find her place’ in the galaxy. Does she turn to Kylo Ren, with whom she discovers she has a magic connection, or persist with Luke? Does Rey have what it takes to be a Jedi, or is the pull of the Dark Side too strong?

Rey’s simple statement to Luke, “I need someone to show me my place in all this”, holds up a mirror to us all. Because we all need to learn from others with more skill or experience or knowledge than ourselves, and we need others to help show us how to act and behave, how ‘to be’, in the world.

Any would-be leader should take this responsibility seriously. What example do you set to your people, and how concerned are you with their development as employees and as human beings?

Lesson 4

Yoda: “The greatest teacher, failure is.”

Now Yoda is of course an old favourite and was bound to feature in the nostalgic new Disney instalments. And as a masterful leadership guru, he doesn’t disappoint in the new film with some great quotes from his brief cameo.

This line, addressed to a withdrawn and slightly tormented Luke Skywalker comes at a crucial moment, as Luke tries to overcome and look beyond past failures, in order to prepare himself for his final destiny to help the Rebel Alliance and become one with the Force.

And there is great wisdom here. Because failure should not be shunned as a bad and ineradicable ‘stain’ on the record of a leader. Failure is a natural part of life – it is how we learn, and leaders should be willing to learn from failure and accept that the outcome of their decisions and actions is often beyond their control.

Which side of the Force will you join?

So there you have it – a few leadership lessons based on quotes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We have barely plumbed the depths of the new movie, and there are plenty more moments with lessons to offer to the aspiring business leader. Let us know if any in particular stood out for you!

You can also read previous Star Wars leadership blogs here: either Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Leadership Do’s and Don’ts or Leadership on Film: 5 Lessons from Star Wars: Rogue One.


Find out more about LDL Leadership and Management Training

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