Star Fleet Academy does a good job of turning out leaders, but despite going through the same program, James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard have very different leadership styles. There’s no answer as to who is the better captain, despite endless debates by Trekkies, but these two captains may serve as a useful measuring tool for essential leadership skills.
Engaging with adversaries. This one is a little too obvious. Kirk is faster to resort to physical force, while Picard would be more likely to initiate a discussion. Consider how you deal with other attorneys when they are coming from an adversarial position. Which approach has served you better, and which has set a professional example for your associates?
Sticking with the plan. Picard is the easy winner here. You can just see him explaining to a baffled crew why the initial plan, whether it’s about an attack or a decision to travel to a far-off galaxy, makes sense in the face of otherwise contradictory evidence. In an estate planning office, new information may be uncovered during the course of preparing a will. Do you stick with the original plan? Are you teaching your associates how to respond to client surprises?
Improvising to meet changing conditions. Kirk’s devil-may-care attitude often hides his analytical skills, which are often underestimated as a result of his bravado. Experience has taught his team that while he may be going in a direction that does not make sense to them at the moment, Kirk knows what he’s doing. Note: in an office setting, your team will appreciate your explaining to them why you are doing what you are doing when you are doing it. There are more learning opportunities in real time than after the fact.
Following the rules. There are a lot of rules in Star Fleet, and the same can be said for the legal profession. The Prime Directive never changes, and neither do the rules of the law and of the state. While Kirk may stretch things a bit, there’s no room for this in the law.
Making tough decisions. This is where both Kirk and Picard excel, and this is also a key component of a leader in any setting. Leaders are not afraid to make unpopular decisions. They also have the ability to take the short and long term impact of those decisions into account before making a final determination of what to do next.
Who would you rather work with? Think about your support team, paralegals and associates. You know them well, and you also know the dynamics in your office. Which of the two Star Trek captains do you think they would be more likely to follow into battle, or in your case, to dig into an extremely complex estate plan that requires a tremendous amount of time, legal research and negotiations?