A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, people still had goods to trade and business to conduct. They had jobs to get to, moisture evaporators to fix and military robots that said "Roger roger" to build. Planetary federations and mercantile guilds aside, there was still a place for motivated businessmen and managers in the Galactic Empire.
As the only child of a single mother, Anakin Skywalker rose from obscurity on a desert planet to become the second most powerful man in the galaxy, a black-clad behemoth known to the worlds as Darth Vader. What leadership lessons can the smart manager of today take from Darth Vader's example?
1. Never Let Them See You Smile
Poker players often attribute their success in the game to their 'poker faces'. Often it's described as a state of mind, a 'zone' in which the subtle muscular telltales of excitement and frustration are dampened by the player's concentration on the cards. Well, screw all that. Darth Vader wore a mask and he never, ever took it off. Nobody knew what he was thinking or feeling. He had to tell them, which he did, often. For being so tactiturn when it came to tactics, Vader was pretty voluble about his feelings. I wonder why that was?
2. Don't Let the Past Hold You Back
Do you think the Republic would have feared someone with a namby-pamby name like Anakin Skywalker? Please. He knew from the outset that no matter how many Paduans he cut down, he'd never get to the top of the imperial heap with his pretty-boy looks, deadpan line delivery and a name that cries out for a schoolyard pounding. So he strapped on some black and had himself renamed Darth Vader. You want to argue the fine points of diplomatic immunity with a guy named Darth Vader? Didn't think so.
3. Get A Cape
You may think that Darth Vader's imposing presence comes from his shiny black boots or his full-face helmet, but it's the cape that does the heavy lifting on the menace front. Without the cape, he's a big guy in a clumsy helmet and a suit with a panel of buttons stuck to the chest. The cape lends majesty to his presence and punctuates his exits with the sweep of fabric. People respect a man with a cape and treat him as a leader. And they'll respect you too, as long as you don't get a red velvet number with a gold cord. Then you're Little Red Riding Hood.
4. Use Star Power
If there's one thing that Anakin Skywalker did not have, it was an impressive or sonorous voice. In fact, he sort of sounded like a whiny teenager who'd had his PlayStation privileges revoked. "But me and my friends were gonna go versing!" he'd plead. But no. Naughty Sith Lords don't get to play Halo 2 with their buddies. They have to sit in their rooms and feel the Force. So good on him for being aware of his limitations. Skywalker promptly went and hired James Earl Jones to voice all his lines for him. It's possible that he may have actually grafted Jones' head to his body, which necessitated the helmet. That's just a theory. Apparently Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the part but later dropped the project in order to star in Tootsie.
5. Choke People At A Distance
I cannot stress enough how effective this can be as a tool in your leadership kit. If a colleague or employee is giving you altogether more guff than you think is productive, shouldn't it be a good thing to crush their windpipe from across the room? And shouldn't it be legal? Why isn't upper management exempt from the law? Don't they know the pressure you're under as a Vice President? Stupid big government and their labour laws.
6. Don't Pay Attention to Mumbo-Jumbo
During the climactic but leisurely lightsaber duel between Vader and his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kenobi tells Darth that if he is struck down, he will become more powerful than Vader can possibly imagine. This sort of talk is typical of the ageing liberal-left hippie who just can't cut it in today's world of high-speed commerce. And Vader, a leader for the future, knows what to do with his kind. He cuts him neatly in half, leaving the top of his body spewing blood and fluid while Kenobi's legs topple over and twitch uselessly on the floor. For a good thirty seconds, Kenobi is trying to scream out in pain before shock and blood loss finally overwhelm his flagging consciousness. It's the look in his eyes that really stays with you. That and the stink of burnt human flesh mixed with intestines spilling out onto the cold metal floor.
7. Don't Forget Family
In your climb to the top, it can be all too easy to forget that you have a loving family at home. Sometimes it can be all too easy to forget that you have children who were separated at birth and sent to different planets so as to keep them away from your crazy homicidal ass. Sometimes you find yourself so bogged down with small stuff that you never even learn about your twin children growing up somewhere out there in the galaxy. That's when you need to stop what you're doing and use the Force to sniff one out. And then you try and kill him. Except in the middle of the killing, right after you chop off his hand, you offer him a job. Then kill him. No wait, kill the CEO when he tries to kill your son (how's that for actioning your expertise?). Then let him take your mask off and... whoah. Dude. Put your mask back on. That's not pretty.