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Captain Janeway and Leadership

I’ve always been a fan of Star Trek. I admire the humanity and thoughtfulness of the characters. A vision of our future selves, creator Gene Roddenberry hoped we might evolve into.

In the third Star Trek series of this immensely popular and long running science fiction series, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager unknowingly leads her crew and that of the Marquis rebel ship they were chasing, through a worm hole and into the Delta quadrant. Finding themselves trapped 70,000 light-years from home Janeway demonstrates her brilliant leadership style, keeping her disparate crew together in hostile and unknown territory.

As a classic affiliative leader, Janeway puts people first. She takes charge without having to surrender her identity as a woman. In fact, it is her feminine and sometimes maternal instincts that often guide her.

This empathic manner coupled with her unwavering determination to get her crew home really defines her leadership style. She puts her crew first.

As an affiliative leader, she understands the fundamental importance of morale, and with two rival forces aboard the ship she demonstrates, again and again, her ability to bring about harmony through conflict resolution and mutual respect. She demonstrates a perfect balance between compassion and decisive action. Throughout the series, she makes it clear that every member of her crew is treasured and that she alone is responsible for their safe return.

Affiliative leaders focus on creating harmony within their organisation. They work to heal rifts and resolve conflict. Affiliative leaders listen to and value the contribution of their team members.

Praise is vital as it recognises the value that others bring. Leaders who praise often, gain loyalty and respect. Praise shows gratitude for the contributions that others make that enable the leader to lead. Praise is encouraging and helps to form bonds between people.

Awareness of other’s needs and concerns is a key part of the leader’s relational style because this style of leadership is about trust. Trust is built when all parties feel that their needs are being recognised and addressed. Awareness of others' needs enables the affiliative leader to support and guide them effectively.

These leaders are flexible, they are willing to be corrected, to change tack, and most importantly to listen. Great leaders acknowledge when they are wrong.

Leaders like Kathryn Janeway believe in freedom but most importantly they are empathetic communicators who listen and truly care about the welfare of their team. Affiliative leaders understand that their greatest assets are the people who support their dream. They understand that healthy, respectful relationships are the key to their success.

The inimitable entity Q once called Janeway ‘a mother to her crew’, as the childless captain never wavered in her determination to return them safely home - eventually coming to perceive them as family and herself as their fearless protector, their north star.

The future of leadership is set to reflect all that we have discovered about the psychology of human relationships in recent years. Understanding that human flourishing is beneficial to any endeavour makes developing our leadership abilities a key component to success.

In 2000, Janeway's leadership style inspired me to name my business Janeway and like the good captain herself, I have journeyed far, faced many challenges, and discovered incredible things which I am now proudly able to share.

If you want to have a chat, use the calendar below, or

Join me for a LIVE Facebook Q& A every Tuesday @ 12pm


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