Captain Picard – The Maverick? Is this even possible? I hear you cry? Well if you have only seen Captain (now Admiral, Retired) Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation then I totally understand why you may feel that it’s an entirely unrealistic proposition.
But bear with me.
Firstly we need to get on common ground – so let’s explain terms. I’ve been describing mavericks as wilfully independent people since 2005. So, this definition of ‘maverick’ is the one we are going to use. If you would like to watch a short video looking at mavericks in more detail, click here.
There are four types of people (click below for more information):
Captain Picard – the Maverick Behaviourist
Let’s take a real good look at the Maverick Behaviourist profile.
Now consider Captain Picard of The Next Generation. Captain Picard liked to conform, out of all the Star Trek Captains he was the one that was the most stickler for the rules. He believed that a Starfleet Captain needed to behave in a certain way and he upheld those ideals.
His personality was Conformist.
However episodes like ‘Measure of Man’, Season 2, episode 9 and ‘The Offspring’, Season 3 Episode 16 shows Picard deciding to stand up against authority and become more wilfully independent. This theme of acting more maverick ‘at work’, the very essence of the Maverick Behaviourist, is further explored in the films. Specifically First Contact and Insurrection.
In ‘Measure of a Man’, Picard goes up against Starfleet to argue that Lieutenant Data (an android) is sentient and that he should be treated as equal to humans. Picard envisions a future where there will be many Data type androids and how their status is determined now, when there is only one, will determine whether they will have rights when they are many, or are treated as slaves. (This theme was disappointingly considered (can non humans have rights), in Star Trek: Voyager ‘Author, Author’ S7 E20).
Back to Captain Picard. Here we see Picard willing to risk his reputation and captaincy on his belief. This is a very maverick trait. Then there was this:
In the Offspring, Picard risks his career to ensure that the ‘State’ cannot compel a sentient being to hand over their child. Especially when the State is more concerned about what the child can give them rather than the welfare of the child.
To risk everything, when all is against you, for a moral cause, is maverick. It’s wilful independence at its finest.
The thing with Maverick Behaviourists, however, is that their personality is fragile. It doesn’t take long for Captain Picard (during the 7 seasons of The Next Generation) to revert back to a Conformist nature. With no one to encourage his maverick nature and no real environmental urgency, he doesn’t develop into what he could be.
The films, however, do give us a flicker of maverick hope.
Admiral Picard, a more maverick, Maverick Behaviourist?
Captain Picard – the Maverick?
Star Trek Picard. Season 1 episodes 1-4.
So, 20 years later is Picard, at last, becoming more maverick? Star Trek: Picard opens with Picard playing poker with Data. Something that we learnt at the end of Star Trek: The Next Generation (S7 E25-26) that this is something that he didn’t do throughout his whole Starfleet career. Fraternising with the lower ranks is something a Captain shouldn’t do (Conformist strategy), despite other Star Trek Captains doing so (Archer, Sisko and Janeway).
When Admiral Picard tells Data in Star Trek: Picard (S1 E1), he’s ‘all in’; it gives us an indication that things for Picard is changing.
We learn in Remembrance (S1 E1) that Picard has been staying at Chateau Picard for the last decade or so and is extremely unhappy. Whilst trying to distract himself from the betrayal of Starfleet and the discovery that his belief of Starfleet is radically destroyed; he has discovered that staying in the Comfort Zone is soul destroying.
No maverick is comfortable in the Comfort Zone and it appears that the broken Picard isn’t either.
Moral outrage is often the key to activating a Maverick and it’s the dawning understanding that Starfleet has abandoned its ideals; and that he can’t get them to return to them, that galvanises the maverick aspect of Picard’s Maverick Behaviourist personality.
A difficult journey
This is very hard for Picard. We see Picard believing that Starfleet will help him despite his long absence and his extremely public accusation against them. If he was more used to operating like a maverick (rather than blindly believing in authority), he would realise that a more careful strategic plan was needed. Especially based on how he left Starfleet. Not even the resignation of a highly decorated officer could turn them to the moral right. What makes him think that anything has changed?
With everything he knew about Starfleet and how the Universe had changed since the ‘burning’ of Mars, and the murder of Dahj, he should have known better. All he managed to do is tell his enemy’s of his plans.
No maverick would be so stupid or naive!
Oh, Jean-Luc – you still need the benefit of a good team around you. It’s not in your nature to be a loner.
Captain Picard – the maverick?
Picard works well when the present and the future is somewhat stable or predictable. But what about now, can he truly ‘activate his maverick’ and make a difference?
There is some hope. Picard definitely sees himself as a loner and the epitome of the ‘moral right’. He is taking risks and have decided to save Data’s daughter. He finally realises that he can’t rely on Starfleet to do the right thing.
However, the Conformist part of his nature is hampering him. Unlike a Socialised Maverick, he has not kept up with his network. We learn that he dropped Raffi like a hot stone when he resigned from Starfleet. Someone he was close to, and had taken many risks with him. Raffi ends up losing her commission and isolated on drugs – not once does he check up on her during the intervening 14 years.
Then there’s Elnor a Romulan, who as a boy idolised Picard. Following the synthetics attacking Mars, Picard leaves Elnor and never returns.
Like all mavericks (including Maverick Behaviourists) Picard knows who he needs to help him. Unlike a Socialised Maverick he has not realised that you can’t demand loyalty of others without demonstrating loyalty yourself. (Extreme Mavericks do this all the time). Similarly to an Extreme Maverick he is using others for the utility they provide. He is dismissive of the personal pain he has caused others – blinded by his moral outrage and sense of right.
He has forgotten the win win. Right now it’s all about him and not about us. It’s maverick alright, but not the right type of maverick for the situation and one that he will not be able to sustain.
Is Picard becoming more maverick – sure. Let’s see if he can balance the maverick that’s been activated into something more engaging, inspiring and successful.