Professional Development

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May the Force Be with You: Lessons from ‘Star Wars’

As a child of the '70s, Star Wars has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

While I have not continued to follow the series, it seems to follow me.

My pre-teen East Coast niece loves Star Wars ... So during family vacations and holidays, I get to hear A LOT about Star Wars, play with Star Wars action figures, and, most recently, watch Baby Yoda videos and share memes of The Child. She is engrossed in all things Star Wars—the story, the characters, the music, the pajamas she got for Christmas. As a student of sociology, psychology and youth development, this fascinates me.

What is it about Star Wars?

Now I don't know enough about Star Wars to know what the draw is, but I recently came across an article titled, "What Star Wars Can Teach You About Talent Management."

Finally, a connection to my world!

The article notes that since the movies are box office hits, it's easy to think of them as purely entertainment. But it really can be all that and more. Following are key lessons leaders can learn about effective work environments from the film series.

MEET TALENT WHERE THEY ARE

The article talks about noticing a pattern important to workforce dynamics in the original Star Wars films, as well as the two subsequent trilogies.

"You start off as Luke, and eventually you turn into Obi-Wan, and eventually you become Yoda," Mark Peterson, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor who teaches a course that explores Star Wars, told Associations Now.

Basically, wherever someone is on their career journey, meeting them where they are helps provide them with the tools to create and accomplish goals necessary for growth.

IMMERSE NEWBIES IN THE CULTURE

Essential to success is fully immersing newbies in your culture. The article continues to note the difference between orientation and onboarding.

"With orientation, you give them the parking pass and keys, leave them alone, and they flounder and die. Onboarding is getting them into institutional culture," Peterson continues to explain.

Having a mentor, like Obi-Wan was to Luke, is also important. Mentors help those new to your workforce culture feel confident to progress and succeed, rather than get flustered and hit roadblocks.

LET TALENT SHINE

This means learning when to let go.

The article notes it's important to know when to let an employee spread their wings, once they've been successfully nurtured and mentored.

"The reality is, Yoda could have stopped Luke [from leaving Dagobah in Empire Strikes Back] if he wanted to. But he knew it was time to let him go," Peterson further shares.

Interested in writing a blog about an effective workplace lesson you've learned from a movie? Share the idea with us!

Written by Heidi Ham, NAA's Vice President of Programs and Strategy.

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