The Empire's Top 5 Team Management Mistakes in Star Wars

Team management is the ability of an individual or an organization to administer and coordinate a group of individuals to perform a task. Team management involves teamwork, communication, objective setting and performance appraisals.

Thirty three years ago, during the battle of Endor, a galaxy far, far away saw the end of a tyrannical militant organisation known as the Galactic Empire.

Managing an organisation of billions is certainly not an easy task, but perhaps if Emperor Palpatine employed a few simple team management practices, things may not have turned out as bad as they did. Here is a list of the top five team management mistakes that plagued the Galactic Empire.

1: Rule By Fear

Moff Jerjerrod: “The Emperor's coming here?”

Darth Vader: “That is correct, Commander. And, he is most displeased with your apparent lack of progress.”

Moff Jerjerrod: “We shall double our efforts.”

Darth Vader: “I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am.”

Motivation and engaging team members as stakeholders in the success of your organisation is critical, especially in time-sensitive projects such as the construction of orbital battle stations. The Second Death Star’s commander, Moff Jerjerrod never lived long enough to take a step back and admire his success, nor did either of the Dark Lords in charge.

Darth Vader’s presence on the station and his conversation with Jerjerrod was more akin to a threat than effective management. 

While team leaders may not be technically equipped to resolve project delays, effective communication and assessment of the project will not only empower their team to become personal stakeholders in the project’s success, but the leader’s renewed understanding will allow them to better allocate resources to mission-critical tasks in order to meet deadlines.

2: Lack of Diversity and Points of View

“There goes another one.”

“Hold your fire, there’s no lifeforms. It must have short circuited”

Being a part of the Galactic Empire meant following orders without question. This culture trickled down from the Vader’s unquestioning loyalty to the Emperor to the probably-responsible-for-the-entire-affair Gunnery Officer at the beginning of Episode IV: A New Hope.

By not destroying the suspicious escape pod and allowing the Death Star plans aboard to reach Tatooine’s surface, that unquestioning obedience set in motion a series of events that resulted in the destruction of their most valuable asset.

When team leaders leave no room for constructive criticism and feedback, they shut themselves away from valuable information that can make or break a project, or in this case, cause the downfall of the entire organisation.

3: Lack of Mentorship

Darth Vader: “Make ready to land our troops beyond their energy field, then deploy the fleet so that nothing gets off the system. You are in command now, Admiral Piett.”

After choking the life from Admiral Kendall Ozzel for making a project-critical error, Darth Vader confers a quintuple field promotion to the then Captain Piett and places the quivering ship captain in charge of an entire fleet of warships.

Needless to say, the Imperial assault on the rebel base on Hoth, while successful in wiping out the installation, fails to yield any strategic benefit and allows all of the Alliance's key personnel to escape unscathed.

Placing an unmentored, inexperienced team member in charge of a headcount they are unaccustomed to leading without any understudy period or prior instruction causes the ultimate failure of the team, no matter how talented and well-equipped they are.

And for those interested in the five-tier promotion, the Galactic Navy’s ranks are:

Captain –> Captain of the line –> Commodore -> Vice admiral –> Rear admiral -> Admiral

4: Focus on The Organisation’s Leaders Instead Of The Goal

The Empire’s singular goal of power consolidation around the Emperor and Darth Vader resulted in a severe concentration risk which threw the Empire into disarray after they were both eliminated. 

With only arbitrary powers awarded to the Empire’s regional governors, the lack of any true organisational body triggered a galaxy-wide celebration at the destruction of the Empire, complete with statue toppling parties and fireworks.

With a clear focus placed on the team’s goal instead of the leader’s vanity or ambition, a team is able to focus resources, time and effort on achieving their project goal instead.

5: No Tolerance for Failure

The control of the Galactic Empire relied on the Emperor's singular tenet of "Rule by fear of force rather than force itself" sought to preserve resources and achieve order without the exertion of force.

Because the Empire was founded on the fear of galaxy-wide war, with then-Chancellor Palpatine being granted emergency powers by the Galactic Senate, the culture of fear permeated the Organisation from the beginning, with team members gratefully relinquishing responsibilities to the leadership.

While this endeavour towards sustainable operations is commendable in its intention, a more effective solution would be to engage team members to manage themselves through mutual commitment and empowerment rather than fear of punishment. This would result in a "Rule by empowerment rather than force." ethos instead.

Team Management

To learn more about team management and other skills for the workplace in small, manageable sessions, visit the British Council's Bitesize Learning and Development Programme and send us your details, and may the Force be with you, always.