Air Force Academy used Star Trek to study leadership

Star Trek: The Original Series -- A Celebration. Image courtesy Eaglemoss Hero Collector
Star Trek: The Original Series -- A Celebration. Image courtesy Eaglemoss Hero Collector /

Star Trek is the defining guide for leadership

There was never any question as to who was in charge of the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain James T. Kirk commanded his crew, and they followed him without question. (Although Dr. McCoy did push the limit a few times.) No matter what circumstances, the crew knew they could trust him. They knew he wouldn’t lead them wrong. Sure, he might make a mistake, but Kirk knew about leadership and managed that ship well.

And that’s why the Air Force Academy used Star Trek as the go-to to study for leadership. According to STS-130 pilot Terry Virts , who is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, a NASA astronaut, and the pilot of space shuttle missions with more than 4,300 flight hours in more than 40 types of aircraft, there were good reasons for using Star Trek as their guide.

"“There were a lot of practical lessons to learn about decisiveness versus being too rash, or performing your specific role well to help the team. It was an interesting study in real-world leadership through this fictional show.”"

Captain Kirk didn’t demand to be followed on Star Trek

And that was one of the greatest things about Kirk. He didn’t have to demand to be followed; he just was. Great leaders don’t have to insist that people follow them. They make people want to follow them. And that is one thing that Star Trek has done right with its captains.

On all of the series, they’ve chosen the right people to helm those fictional bridges, people that present an air of authority and carry command like it’s comfortable instead of burdensome. It’s no wonder a branch of the military was able to utilize those components when training its cadets for the future.

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