“The most important part about Star Trek captains isn’t which one you admire most, or which one you feel most closely reflects your management style. The most important Star Trek captain is the one who inspires you to be a better leader.” – Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack
Sometimes it’s hard to be a leader. Sometimes it’s even harder to be a leader when you’re a woman.
Since I became an entrepreneur there have been several times that I have been not taken seriously, disrespected, or straight-up taken advantage of because I am a woman – even from other members of my own business community.
Theoretically, the world likes strong women. But then you look for examples on TV and the media… where are they? It’s really hard to find positive examples of strong women who hold positions of power. No wonder our daughters grow up unsure of how to assert themselves.
Enter Captain Janeway.
(If you don’t know who I’m talking about, stop right now and go watch some Star Trek. Seriously. Were you brought up in a barn?)
Captain Janeway, to me, is the epitome of a positive female leader. She kicks butt and takes names – but without being a jerk, and without surrendering her identity as a woman. Captain Janeway is an awesome hero. (Alongside my mom of course – who coincidently is the one who brought me up on Star Trek. Coincidence? I think not.)
Without further ado, here are the numerous ways that Captain Janeway teaches women (and men too!) how to be better leaders – and not be afraid of doing it.
1. Take care of your people first
Throughout the Voyageur series, Janeway’s one driving focus is getting her people home. She sticks to this even at her own peril. She puts her team’s needs above her own, because she recognizes that as their leader she has a responsibility to keep them safe. In turn, her crew is willing to walk through fire for her.
2. Never let anyone intimidate you
Have you ever seen what happens when someone tries to threaten Katherine Janeway?
3. Get the right people on the bus, and listen to them
“Many times, you’ll see Janeway change a thought or an opinion in mid-sentence because she understands that B’Elanna has an angle on a situation that she missed, or Chakotay says something that makes great sense and she changes her thinking. There’s a wonderful flexibility in this tower of strength.”
– Kate Mulgrew on Captain Janeway’s leadership style, in an interview in Starlog, March 1995 issue.
4. Listen to your trusted advisors, but in the end you need to do what you think is best
Sometimes Janeway’s gut is telling her to do one thing, even when everyone else is telling her to do something else. She listens respectfully, even when she doesn’t agree. Then she does her thing anyway.
5. Having differences doesn’t mean you can’t work together
When Voyageur got lost in the delta quadrant, they ended up “inheriting” a group of Maquis, who were essentially outlaws according to the Federation. What did Janeway do? She earned their trust, acknowledged their skills and talents, and included them – even giving some of them positions of rank on the Voyageur crew.
6. It is possible to be both tough and sensitive.
And there’s nothing wrong with giving a hug to someone who needs it.
7. Own your mistakes.
Like any human, sometimes Janeway messes up. When that happens, she is able to admit it, takes steps to resolve it if she can, and avoids blaming other people.
8. Be the guide, not the hero
There’s an episode where B’Elanna thanks her for supporting her through a problem. Janeway tells her: “You were the pilot, I just charted the course.”
9. Never ask your people to do something you would never do yourself
Much to her first officer’s frustration, (and contrary to Starfleet protocol) Janeway frequently takes on dangerous missions herself. She doesn’t like to ask her people to do something dangerous while she stays behind.
10. Sarcastic humour cuts tension better than any knife.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is not take a situation too seriously.
Bonus #11: “Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised.”