The Importance Of Initiative And Engagement

images-5This is the third in a series of Leadership Lessons From Star Trek The Next Generation and looks at the importance of initiative.

The STNG Episode concerned was when the Enterprise went to investigate what looked like a large sphere. It turned out to be a huge metal sphere constructed around a Sun. It was of such a vast size it was acting like a black hole and the Enterprise was in danger of being stuck permanently inside the sphere.

Geordie LaForge used his initiative and used an old Starship that had become trapped in the gravity well and managed to maneouvre it to jam open the sphere’s doors. He then beamed back to the Enterprise and they managed to escape the gravitational pull of the sphere. It was this initiative that saved the lives of the whole crew.

Picard has this to say about the importance of Initiative in Leadership:

  • Most objectives are achieved by Leaders who are tenacious working through obstacles or even doing an ‘end around’ them.
  • Leaders are not a product of the times they live in but what they make of the time they have.
  • A team member should only take the initiative when they understand what their Leader is trying to achieve and they have weighed up all the options.
  • Too much fear of the unknown is the most paralyzing thing for a Leader.
  • Leaders who fail to act are placing too much faith in fate going well for them.
  • Leaders who tend to hesitate can quickly make this a habit, this is in fact worse than a less experienced Leader who lacks knowledge and experience.
  • Initiative is a direct expression of one’s ambition.
  • The difference between insignificant and exceptional results is usually a factor of the enthusiasm and determination with which tasks are carried out.
  • Any Leader who feels he must control every action of all his team actually takes away their initiative, we must each develop Leadership not merely imitate it.


This is the second of my post based on the book Leadership Lessons From Star trek The Next Generation – Wess Roberts Ph. D and Bill Roberts. The second lesson a Leader must learn is Urgency hence the title of the post – Engage. The actual episode should you want to refer back is the one where The Enterprise is docked for a baryon sweep. A baryon sweep will kill all organisms on board therefore the whole crew had to evacuate. However Jean-Luc Picard decides he wants to go riding whilst on shore leave so transports back to the ship just before the sweep begins to get his saddle.

Whilst on board the ship he find some terrorists stealing warp engine waste that will make extremely powerful weapons. He gets trapped on board and is in danger of being killed. He gets captured and taken to the safe zone the terrorists have set up. Meanwhile his senior staff are at a reception on the planet and suspect things are not quite right. They are proved correct and held at gunpoint by an accomplice of the terrorists.

Through some quick thinking they use the fact that Data is an android and cannot be knocked out, re-jig Geordies implant and knock everyone out in the room. Data can now take control of the situation and stop the sweep in time to save Picard. Picard at the same time was not idle he was causing the terrorists as many problems as possible. End result the Enterprise is saved as is Picard.

The main lessons that Picard enters into his personal log about the importance of urgency are:

  • Never mistake Urgency for haste. Urgency should always be deliberate and executed with patience. Consider all the options, this is not delay but diligence.  The best Leaders select the best option to maximize the opportunity at the best time.
  • A Leader with a sense of urgency is one with a sense of purpose, their energy is not easily stopped.
  • A Leader with urgency learns to master circumstances not become enslaved by them. In fact circumstances will hardly ever stop a Leader with a sense of urgency.
  • The best Leaders not only have a sense of urgency but expect it in their senior people.
  • Sensing when a decision needs to be made urgently is key to a Leader’s success and that sensing is harder than making the decision itself.
  • When Leaders act with a sense of urgency it brings both a feeling of strength and ease, it takes less effort and is usually more effective.

Application to a task is totally within a Leader’s personal control, and the more you apply yourself with urgency the more your will achieve in what you previously thought were impossible deadlines. As I said yesterday this opportunity I am partnered with is fully committed to the concept of Leadership and rewards and recognize those Sponsors who become Leaders first rather than just recruit, recruit recruit.