Leadership Issues Plagued Rebel Alliance, Prolonged War

Ron Ashkenas writes in his article Why People Micromanage, “Over the past few decades I’ve worked with hundreds of managers, and many complain that they work for micromanagers. But strangely I don’t recall anyone who ever admitted to being one.”  The problem with this approach is beautifully articulated in this Avoiding Micromanaging quote, “Micromanagers take perfectly positive attributes – an attention to detail and a hands-on attitude – to the extreme. Either because they’re control-obsessed, or because they feel driven to push everyone around them to success, micromanagers risk disempowering their colleagues. They ruin their colleagues’ confidence, hurt their performance, and frustrate them to the point where they quit.”  This was really what lay at the heart of the Rebel Alliance’s failure to secure victory for so long.  A micromanager whose management style eventually drove Han Solo to quit.  If you look at the organizational chart below (not comprehensive), you can see there was only one person in charge of like everyone, and it made no logical sense to have her in charge.

Why was Princess Leia briefing X-Wing fighters about the tactical assault on the Death Star? (h/t Family Guy for pointing out the absurdity).  Was she a pilot?  Did she pick off rat thingy’s in Beggars Canyon back home that weren’t much bigger than 2 meters? No. She was adopted by some Senator and handed the title of Princess, and it was never made clear why. (Don’t send emails explaining how this happened, I don’t really care)

Had the rebels had a better sense of who was in charge, they would have found the confidence they needed to succeed and push through to victory sooner.  One author said it this way, “Poor organization structure and work processes (in other words poor organization design) stop many organization’s from achieving high performance. Unfortunately many leaders think of organization design as something done by the H.R boffins.”  Perhaps Princess Leia felt the same way, she would just let the boffins take care of the rebel’s performance issues.  Or maybe she simply failed to see her role in the problem.  Whatever the reason, the question remains, why the hell was she in charge?

Let’s now take a look at the Empire.  You’ll recall they had some strategic victories against the rebels, Hoth not the least of which.  But why should it be that they had such marked successes?  They were after all evil.  Well, they had some distinct advantages, the Death Star for one.  But the also had an impressive organizational structure, where the chain of command was clearly defined.  See below:

Unless you were stupid or dead, no one could have been confused by this.  It was simple and straightforward.  The other advantage was the ability of the Emperor to delegate responsibility to Darth Vadar.  He new the dark side of the Force was strong with Vadar, this skill set allowed the Emperor to build the evil bond of trust which was so vital to the mission of crushing the rebels.  Finally, the Death Star was tidy.  Kyra Sheahan puts it’s this way, “Working in an office environment that is neat and tidy will reduce the amount of time you spend hunting files down, and increase your ability to get things done.”  The insistance of the leadership to keep the Death Star clean was evident on all levels, from the garbage dumping before jumping into hyperdrive, to cleaning up dead generals after Vadar Force choked them.

In the end, the rebels were victorious.  Their righteous cause and huge assist from Wookies and teddy bears could not be thwarted no matter how illogical and token Princess Leia was as a leader.  She did unfreeze Han Solo and kill Jabba the Hut in a space bikini, to her credit, but her failure to step out of the way, only prolonged the war unnecessarily.  Had she done so, we may have all been spared the Ewoks.  Why even have those things? WHY?

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