Starfleet is the first Maverick Organisation! More than that, it’s the first Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™! And on this Star Trek Day, I’m going to start a series of articles explaining why! First of all, let’s start with a bit of Star Trek context.
This is what Wikipedia says about Starfleet:
“Starfleet is a uniformed space force maintained by the United Federation of Planets (the Federation) as the principal means for conducting deep space exploration, research, defence, peacekeeping, and diplomacy”Wikipedia
Starfleet whilst mostly human, is made up of hundreds of other species. It has a non-interference policy (the Prime Directive), in which most of the protagonists strive to abide to. You could say that the essence of the Prime Directive could be found in the Socialised Maverick’s guiding principle – ‘first, do no harm’.
What is a Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™?
This is a big question which would take more explanation than I have time to detail here. That detail is contained in my second book.
It’s suffice to say that it’s an organisation that supports my assertion that ‘Maverick Leadership is a philosophy and that anyone can demonstrate Maverick Leadership even if they are not a maverick (wilfully independent)’.
In fact, a lot of the work that The Maverick Paradox accomplishes is around enabling individuals and organisations to demonstrate and support Maverick Leadership.
Along with this philosophy is my Maverick DRIVEN Leadership™ methodology which is a way to optimise your leadership effectiveness and success. Not every Maverick Leader will decide to use the methodology, preferring to be guided by the Maverick Leadership philosophy instead.
A Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™ allows all individuals to become empowered Maverick DRIVEN Leaders™ and also takes on the responsibility of enabling its entire workforce (whether employed, contracted, volunteers etc), to work for the greater good. An ethical organisation, it is a leader in its field and is mindful of its role of leading society to better outcomes with the products it makes or the services it delivers.
This type of organisation is open to truth, challenge, provoking curiosity at all levels, and has a culture of integrity and intelligent disobedience. It has a well deserved positive reputation, with a mission and value set that is demonstrated by their representatives and understood by all it touches.
It is inspirational and an aspiration for many.
All its stakeholders are proud to be aligned with the Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™ and cognisant with its drive to execute well and maintain its success. It does meaningful work and has a purpose we can get behind. This type of organisation does not determine its success by financial measures alone.
The size of the organisation does not dictate whether it is a Maverick DRIVEN™ one or not.
Starfleet is the first Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™!
All Maverick DRIVEN Organisations™ demonstrate the WHINES™ acronym as one of their foundational stones for success.
Today I have chosen one episode from the following Star Trek Franchises to illustrate one of the Maverick WHINES™ Attributes:
- Star Trek: The Next Generation™
- Star Trek: Voyager™
- Star Trek: TOS™
- Star Trek: Deep Space 9™
- Star Trek: Discovery™
- Star Trek: Enterprise™
W is for Wilful Independence
Journey’s End, Star Trek: The Next Generation S7 e20.
In this episode Ensign Wesley Crusher returns to the Enterprise for a holiday. It is clear that he is extremely unhappy at Starfleet Academy, although we don’t know why.
He returns during the conclusion of a long negotiated treaty between the Federation and the Cardassians. The two parties have agreed to swap several colonised planets and Admiral Nechayev orders Captain Picard to forcibly remove the North American settlers from their planet. These settlers have been travelling 200 years before choosing to settle on Dorvan V for the last 20 years.
Captain Picard makes a moral objection in reference to the ‘disturbing parallels’ of the past. It’s not the first time that North Americans have been forcibly removed from their land in the past.
He is convinced by Admiral Nechayev that this ‘is the price for peace’ and that it is for the ‘greater good’. She informs him that ‘diplomacy is the art of the possible’. He is still troubled but does ahead with the arrangements whilst exercising some wilful independence looking for alternative solutions.
Meanwhile Wesley goes to Dorvan V looking for answers for his unease. Despite his Starfleet Training, he decides to intervene and warn the North American Indians of their pending forceful removal. Thus causing an interplanetary incident bringing them to the brink of war.
When admonished by Captain Picard he stands by his principles, asserts his wilful independence and resigns his commission.
What’s interesting here, is that Starfleet clearly provides a culture that allows wilful independence to flourish despite the risks that this might bring. Choosing to seek the positive, time and time again, we are presented with a view of Starfleet that seeks truth above all else and a refusal of the refrain ‘I was just following orders’.
An acceptance of mistakes that have been made, if learning is gained, can be seen as a maverick trait. In Journey’s End both Captain Picard and Ensign Wesley choose an honourable solution. They face no consequences for their wilful independence as it can be seen that they were working for the greater good and within the stated mission and purpose of Starfleet.
H is for Honest belief
Favourite Son, Star Trek: Voyager S3 e20.
In this episode Ensign Harry Kim (Ensign is the lowest rank on the ship), initiates a seemingly unprovoked attack against an unknown alien, in violation of Starfleet principles. He risks war, and the Voyager crew is all alone in the Delta Quadrant, thousands of miles from the Federation.
They have limited resources and no back up. Captain Janeaway can’t afford to fight every new alien race they see, their aim is peaceful collaboration with all they meet.
This is a dangerous situation, with potential fatal consequences and yet we see the demonstration of Maverick Leadership in the way that Captain Janeway addresses Kim.
Instead of Janeway immediately attacking Kim, she only says two things. “I want to know exactly what you thought you were doing”. She listens to his explanation, carefully watching him as he is unable to answer the other officers’ questions. She is determining the strength of his reply, whether he truly held an honest belief that they were in danger against what she knows about him. Janeway is analysing his actions against what she knows of his nature. She gently tells him that she “trusts his intentions but his actions are going to need a little more justification”.
It’s an extraordinary response. There’s no blame or recriminations. None of the officers use an accusatory or disbelieving tone. They just state the facts, openly and genuinely. There is no agenda here and they make it easy for the lowest ranked officer on the bridge, to answer what is potentially court martial offence to the three highest ranked officers. You get the sense that Kim is not fearful of his career and is just as interested in finding out the truth as they are.
Janeway doesn’t understand Kim’s reasons for firing first and neither does he. However as part of Starfleet’s Maverick Organisational culture, she accepts his honest belief with good intent (despite the consequences). This exchange shows what it is like to work under a Maverick Leader and in a culture where it’s ok to stand up for what you belief in, and that those in charge and the rest of the ‘crew’ look for objective truth without blame. (In the episode it transpires that Kim’s instincts were right and he has in fact saved the Voyager’s crew).
I is for Influential
Mirror, Mirror. Star Trek:TOS S2 e4
In this episode a transporter malfunction swaps Captain Kirk, Dr McCoy, Lt Commander Scott and Lt Commander Uhura with their evil counterparts from a parallel universe. In this mirror universe the Federation’s ideals of peaceful exploration is exchanged for conquest.
Captain Kirk is a Maverick Leader trusted by his crew. When Uhura has to go on the Bridge alone she is scared. Kirk gives her his full attention and gently reminds her that she is “the only one that can do it. I’ll be right there”.
She trusts him completely and goes to the Bridge.
Maverick Leaders always change the status quo that isn’t working. Rather than leaving the Mirror Universe as it is, Kirk risks stranding his crew there as he tries to convince the Mirror Universe Spock to initiate change. As expected, his words are powerful and convincing. Kirk uses the language Spock understands – logic.
“If change is inevitable, predictable and beneficial, doesn’t logic demand you be a part of it?”Captain James T Kirk
He also utilises his ability to narrate a convincing story. Maverick Leaders are highly influential. Kirk proves this with his very words and Spock’s later actions.
Spock: One man cannot summon the future
Kirk: But one man can change the present
“In every revolution there is one man with a vision”Captain Kirk
This is the belief of the Maverick Leader, and in Starfleet they encourage men (and women) with a vision to change the world they operate in.
N is for kNowledgeble
Far beyond the Stars. Star Trek: Deep Space 9, S6 e13
In this episode the stress of the Dominion war is getting to Captain Sisko and his dream-like visions recur during a visit from his father. Inside Sisko’s mind, reality and fantasy mix into a vision set in mid-20th century New York City (Wikipedia). He flits between being on the Space Station and living the life of Benny Russell (a black Science Fiction writer in a world where black writers aren’t allowed to exist), in a New York filled with racial tensions.
This is one of the most noteworthy Deep Space 9 episodes, however I only want to comment on this pondering from Captain Sisko:
“What if it wasn’t a dream? What if all of this is the illusion? What if Benny is not the dream, we are?”
When Sisko’s dad says the thought is a scary one, Sisko dismisses that as a reason to stop pondering. This is typical of the Maverick Leader, their curiosity, their need to know as much as they can, trumps the need to feel comfortable with where that knowledge takes them. It is a facet of their need to be intellectually challenged. When you are truly kNowledgeable, you can act.
E is for Execution and Output driven
Such Sweet Sorrow. Star Trek: Discovery S2 e13-14
This is the final 2-parter for Season 2. In this episode the Discovery crew have to take Discovery to the far future to save the universe. It is a one way trip and they will be leaving everything they know and love behind.
This episode demonstrates that Maverick Leaders always execute and are output driven, regardless of the personal consequences. They aren’t afraid to show their emotions and will do what’s needed for the greater good, even if they are afraid.
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.
“Or the one.”Spock and Captain Kirk
They have a mission to complete.
In this episode (Such sweet sorrow), Captain Pike is at a complete loss as to what to do next to stop Control taking over the Sphere knowledge on Discovery. He calls together the right experts from the crew to come up with the solution (this differs from Captain Picard, who always called on the Bridge staff. Picard was the least maverick of the other captains which may explain this practice).
He offers no suggestions, he doesn’t have any.
Pike lets the crew discuss the possibilities and come up with the right solutions. As a Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™ Starfleet – encourages all those that know, to lead. Regardless of rank. (In this episode, for example, Captain Pike allows Ensign Tilly to greet Queen Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po rather than himself,. This is highly unusual. Nor does he ask Tilly how she knows the Queen, he just trusts that she does).
Captain Pike having previously learnt that he will end up horribly paralysed and burnt sometime in the future, says this to Commander Burnham when she is unsure what to do with the time crystal:
Pike: Sometimes we know the role we are meant to play, sometimes we don’t. I’m not sure which is better to be honest.
Burnham: And we don’t know if we will have the strength do we, until the moment comes?
Despite this uncertainty, Pike and Burnham do what their organisational culture and their personal convictions tell them to do. They get the job done.
“Trust the mystery”, Burnham says. This is the mindset of the pathological curious and the demonstration of the self-efficacy of the Socialised Maverick.
S is for Success driven
These are the voyages … Star Trek: Enterprise S4 e22
In this final episode we see a story within a story. We see Commander Riker (from The Next Generation, set 200 years in the future – from the perspective of Star Trek: Enterprise), struggle with a decision. He is on the holodeck watching the events of Enterprise to help him decide what to do. The other story encompasses Captain Archer also struggling with an important decision.
This is an episode of what should a Maverick Leader do when faced with a difficult decision. Riker needs to decide whether to disobey orders from an Admiral to do the right thing and Archer whether to disobey orders to honour a debt to a friend.
This episode is really about trust and loyalty. And how you can be successful by sticking to the true path, despite what others say, even if they have authority (a higher rank), over you.
Star Trek: Enterprise concludes with the Enterprise crew being responsible for the initiation of an alliance between planets that will eventually turn into the Federation.
Starfleet is the first Maverick DRIVEN Organisation™!
Starfleet, encourages, nurtures and supports the empowerment of Maverick Leaders. There is a culture of safety where you are encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them. There is a presumption of good intent when it comes to your actions, and you are given space to grow into your responsibilities.
In terms of Transactional Analysis, Starfleet Officers only engage in communication that is Adult to Adult.
More organisations should act in this way.
There is a presumption that a Starfleet Officer will always speak the truth, will take responsibility for their own actions and will listen to another view, honestly expressed by another – regardless of age or rank. (Wesley Crusher was 15 when he started working on the Bridge).
Those that serve Starfleet are proud to do so and it’s a trusted organisation even by its enemies (which is no mean feat!).
Starfleet expects everyone to be a Maverick Leader in their own right, even if you are a cadet without rank (see Picard’s statement to Wesley – ‘an officer’s first duty is to the truth’).
Leadership resides within everyone. Starfleet knows that – do you?