Star Wars: The Last Jedi had to be one of my most anticipated movies of the year. Having seen Star Wars: Rogue One and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in recent years, my hopes were extremely high for an amazing new Star Wars movie.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi didn’t disappoint me. The Last Jedi tells the story of Rey (Daisy Ridley) pursuing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hammill) to train her in the Jedi ways. Luke is a broken man after Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (Adam Driver) destroyed the Jedi training center Luke had built and killed most of the Jedi students. Luke didn’t want to take on another apprentice for fear he would rise up another dark Jedi. The Last Jedi also tells the story of the Rebel Alliance as they flee from The First Order, a newly formed military power similar to The Empire.
The Last Jedi treats viewers to a gut-wrenching tale of sorrow and defeat… Along with success and victory.
You will also find plenty of leadership lessons in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Let’s take a look at those leadership lessons today.
Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Star Wars: The Last Jedi
1. Let people know what’s going on:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens with the standard opening crawl. In this text, viewers are given a refresher on what has come before. The text tells viewers about the happenings in The Force Awakens and previous Star Wars films. It also fills in parts of the story between the last film and The Last Jedi.
By using an opening crawl, The Last Jedi instantly pulls viewers back into the world of Star Wars. They’re quickly informed of what’s come before and given a teaser of what is to come.
As a leader, you need to let people know what’s going on. You can’t keep your people in the dark. This creates chaos, angst, and anger.
Be as open as you can with organizational happenings. Invite team members to be a part of the inner-workings. Hold company-wide meetings where business topics are discussed and shared.
2. Female Rebel:
The Rebel soldiers were evacuating from their base on the remote planet D’Qar when The First Order attacks and destroys the planet. A female rebel soldier is helping evacuate the planet when she realizes time is running out. The First Order has appeared and they’re ready to destroy the Rebel Alliance.
This Rebel soldier realized their plans had to be taken to the next level. The evacuation had to happen even faster than before.
What can we learn from this scenario in Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Leaders need to be aware that plans can change at any time. Wrenches are thrown into plans all of the time and leaders HAVE to be ready to call an audible.
Don’t hold fast and true to your plans. Be flexible and ready to change when it is called for.
3. Being a small organization is not a weakness:
Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) was on a mission to destroy a First Order dreadnaught. This ship was massive. It was later described as a fleet killer.
During Poe’s attack, the dreadnaught struggled to fight off the lone pilot. His ship was small and nimble. The larger ship couldn’t lock onto it.
A lot of times you’ll feel your small organization is at a disadvantage. You don’t have the people or the revenue or the resources to grow larger.
But your smallness offers something else. Smaller organizations are able to be more nimble, changing course at a moments notice. They are also more innovative and exciting.
Stop thinking your small size is a disadvantage. Your size may be your BIGGEST advantage.
4. Victory can be bittersweet:
Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) called off the attack on the dreadnaught when the situation became too dangerous. Poe chose to disobey her orders and continue the attack.
While Poe’s actions allowed the Rebel Alliance to land a small victory against The First Order, his actions led to the loss of multiple lives and Rebel bombers. These people’s lives were valuable. So were the ships that were lost.
This victory was bittersweet.
Have you ever experienced a bittersweet victory? All leaders will at one point or another.
In the church world, you may see someone come to salvation… During the funeral of a student from the youth group. Or maybe your top salesperson landed a million dollar contract but you discovered he was burned out and putting in his two-week notice.
Victories will be great. They’ll also be bitter.
5. Bad leaders berate those they lead:
Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) began berating Kylo Ren after a failure. He told him how he was worthless and a screw-up. His words were tinged with malice more than concern for how this wouldn’t happen in the future.
Bad leaders are like Supreme Leader Snoke. They talk down to their employees. They threaten and demean those who are devoting their lives to the cause.
Be aware of how you speak to your team members. Are you speaking life or are you speaking death? The way you speak will impact the organization.
6. Luke Skywalker:
You don’t need Luke Skywalker.
By this point in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke was a broken man. He’d seen all he’d worked for destroyed by a student. He no longer had the passion in him to lead others.
And while these words were spoken in that brokenness, there was still truth in them. Luke didn’t want to lead. He knew Rey didn’t NEED him to train her.
This was a heartbreaking scene to watch. After falling in love with the cocky, young version of Luke Skywalker, we’re treated to a bitter old man. One who has realized many leaders are interchangeable. The organization will go on without him (or you).
You may bring a unique perspective to leadership. You may even be on the top of the leadership world. However, you will be replaced one day. The world will no longer need what you’ve brought to the table.
This doesn’t mean you don’t keep leading. You may need to change the way you lead or move to a different arena. But know this.
7. Luke Skywalker:
Why are you here?
Multiple times Luke Skywalker asked Rey why she had come to Ahch-To. Each time, Rey gave a surface level answer. “Oh, the Rebel Alliance needs you.” “General Organa sent me.” Blah, blah, blah… Each answer covered her true reason for being there.
Only after multiple questionings did Rey give a full answer for being there (I won’t spoil this for you. You’ll have to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi to discover why).
Luke was a master at getting to the heart of the matter. He asked the same question multiple times to Rey until she revealed the truth. You will have to do the same thing in leadership. You will have to dig deep to figure out the truth.
Don’t be afraid to ask the same question multiple times to the same person. The answers will change until you get to the truth.
8. General Leia Organa:
At what cost?
Poe was thrilled he’d taken down one of The First Order’s dreadnaughts. He believed his actions were praise-worthy. Leia had another thing for him.
She saw the cost of the attack. Multiple bombers. The lives of the pilots who were shot down. There was a cost to the victory. She saw it. Poe did not.
Leaders can be blinded in the pursuit of success. They see the end goal and they go after it like a rabid dog. Attacking and chipping away until they reach the goal.
It’s natural for a leader to do this because that’s what leaders do: They get results.
But that’s not what great leaders do. Great leaders weigh the costs associated with reaching the goal.
Before and during your pursuit of the goal, weigh the costs. Is the price worth paying?
9. Find the right motivators for your team:
You know Luke didn’t want to train Rey. He wanted nothing to do with the Jedi ways. Well, not until R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee) used the right motivation on Luke.
To get Luke to train Rey, R2-D2 showed Luke the video that started him on the quest: Princess Leia Organa asking for help.
Seeing this motivated Luke to put aside his regret and begin training Rey.
R2-D2 figured out a way to motivate Luke to take action. You will have to do the same thing for your people.
Not everyone is motivated by the same things. Some people are motivated by money. Others by praise. And still some by experiences.
Discover what motivates each individual person on your team. Then reward them with their motivation.
You will see a change in your team if you do this!
10. Inspire hope:
Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) took command after General Organawas injured. She was promoted to general. This promotion came with a huge challenge.
There was only a small band of Rebels left on the ship. Most of their comrades had been killed in the attack. Hope was lost.
But Admiral Holdo did what great leaders do. She rallied the troops. She gave a speech that helped turn the hearts and minds of the Rebels back to their cause.
While the Rebels may be hurting, she said, they’re still a symbol of hope. A symbol of hope to the downcast and trodden upon. These few words sparked something within the remaining Rebel Alliance members and they rose to the occasion.
Great leaders don’t only give direction. Great leaders give hope. They inspire and encourage those they lead. They help people see WHAT IS POSSIBLE if they work together.
Be a leader who gives hope.
11. Be free with information:
Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) was a mechanic on the Rebel ship. She was guarding the escape pods to prevent deserters from fleeing. This is when she ran into Finn (John Boyega).
She fawned over him as Finn was a Rebel hero. Then reality set in. She saw Finn’s bags and believed he was going to desert the Alliance as well.
Rose tased Finn and began wheeling him away. That’s when Finn woke up and told Rose he wasn’t deserting the Alliance, he was trying to save Rey.
Fin gave Rose information she didn’t have before. The Rebel ship was being tracked, even through hyperspace. No matter when they jumped to lightspeed, The First Order was able to follow them.
The news of the hyperspace tracking intrigued Rose. It also made Rose think of an unusual way to stop the tracking.
Giving Rose, someone who normally wouldn’t have had access to this type of information, opened up a new way of dealing with the problem.
Allow your team members to have access to the issues you’re facing. By letting your team know what’s going on, you will have new eyes on the problem. These eyes will see solutions you never were able to.
Don’t be afraid to freely share your issues. You may be one person away from a simple solution.
12. Hubris is dangerous:
The reason behind Luke Skywalker training Ben Solo was because they both had Skywalker blood in them. This gave Luke hubris in his abilities and the fate of Ben. He became overconfident and ignored the dangers he could face.
Because Luke ignored the signs and gave way to his excessive pride, he gave Ben Solo the opportunity to turn to the dark side of the Force.
Be careful hubris in leadership. If you begin to experience excessive pride or self-confidence, check yourself. You’re heading into a dangerous place.
I need someone to show me my place in all this.
Rey knew she didn’t have all the answers. Heck, she knew she didn’t have MOST of the answers. She needed help. She needed a mentor.
This is one of the reasons she sought out Luke Skywalker. She needed someone to show her the way.
Rey had humility in approaching Luke for help. She wasn’t proud or haughty. She was humble.
Great leaders know they need help. They need someone to take their hand and show them the way.
Are you willing to be led as you’re leading others? Find a mentor. Find someone who’s been there and done that.
Time it is, for you to look past a pile of old books.
Wisdom they held, but that library contained nothing that the girl Rey does not already possess.
Viewers of Star Wars: The Last Jedi get a special treat with the return of our favorite green Jedi, Yoda (Frank Oz). He appears as Luke is debating whether or not to burn down a sacred Jedi tree and the Jedi texts within.
Yoda then proceeds to light the tree and Jedi books on fire. Destroyed in the fire, are the Jedi wisdom books.
Yoda drops a leadership bomb by telling Luke to stop looking in the books. There’s wisdom in the books but there’s more wisdom in the world than just the books.
You may be tempted to sit and read leadership books and article 24/7. I want to encourage you to stop. You can even stop reading this blog and the articles I write.
You have plenty of leadership wisdom within you. Stop hiding behind books and blogs. Get out there and lead.
The great teacher, failure is.
Don’t be afraid of failure. You’re going to fail in leadership. Use the failure to learn. Failure is a great teacher.
16. You will misinterpret other’s actions:
Finn and Rose meet Benicio del Toro’s DJ in a prison cell after illegally parking on a beach. DJ overhears the couple discussing their plight and he offers to help them.
His offer wasn’t for free, though. He wanted the necklace Rose was wearing.
Rose resisted at first. The necklace was one half of a pair. The other belonged to her sister, Paige Tico (Ngô Thanh Vân). Paige died in the attack on The First Order’s dreadnaught.
This necklace meant a lot to Rose. Finn and Rose felt DJ was being a jerk… Then we learn the truth.
DJ used the necklace to short an electrical box on one of The First Order’s ships. This helped grant the trio access to the room they needed. Once DJ was done with the necklace, he gave it back to Rose.
Man, I’ve been there. I’ve been in Rose and Finn’s shoes. I believed people were out for their own good rather than to help out someone in need.
My distrust of their actions made for some sticky situations. You’ve probably been there too.
We can either trust or distrust the motivations of those we lead. I’d rather err on the side of trust from now on.
17. There’s balance in the tension:
Kylo Ren and Rey were drawn to one another through the Force. Rey believed Kylo Ren would turn to the light. Kylo Ren believed Rey would turn to the dark.
After Kylo Ren killed Supreme Leader Snoke, they enter into a dialogue where the other tries to talk the other into switching sides. Then they begin to fight over the lightsaber.
Each one tries to Force-pull the lightsaber to themselves. This results in both Kylo Ren and Rey being suspended (and balanced) in the air with the lightsaber in the middle.
There was balance. As the light and the dark pulled, things were equal.
Leadership is full of tension. Leaders will feel like they’re being pulled from both sides.
Find balance in the tension.
That’s how we’re going to win. Not fighting for what we hate. Saving what we love.
Rose was quite a wise character in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. This line was really powerful.
Especially in the church world, we see leaders fighting what they hate. Instead, should they be saving what they are called to love (people)?
Stop fighting what you hate. Instead, start fighting for what you love.
19. Know when to pass the leadership baton:
Poe had made quite a few mistakes during the events of The Last Jedi. He’d led multiple Rebels to their deaths, lost valuable Rebel ships, and more. Yet there came a time when General Organa knew she could pass the leadership baton to Poe.
Rebels were looking at Leia as they were getting ready to evacuate one of the mines on the salt planet of Crait. Poe was already moving forward, going towards the exit.
Leia knew then that Poe was the one to follow. She encouraged the Rebels to stop looking at her. Instead, look at Poe and follow him.
There’s a time for leaders to step aside for a new generation of leaders. Knowing when to step aside and “pass the leadership baton” takes wisdom.
20. When great leaders pass, it is felt:
In The Force Awakens, the Star Wars wold lost Han Solo (Harrison Ford). In The Last Jedi, we lost Luke Skywalker.
The audience watched as Luke faded away. And they were shocked. Then the repercussions began to be felt throughout the Star Wars universe.
General Organa felt Luke’s passing. Finn felt Luke leaving. So did Rey.
When great leaders pass, there’s a void that’s left. Be a leader who produces these kinds of shockwaves.