Darth Vader – Project Manager Part 1

February 14, 2012

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be on a project that was managed by Darth Vader? 

Let’s analyze the good side of his skills.

But before we do a little housekeeping:

I would like to thank my George Lucas for inventing such wonderful characters and a wonderful story, that has entertained me and so many others, many many times. I would also like to thank my co-workers for not utilizing Darth Vader’s style.

The Good




He vigorously defends projects he is leading

Admiral Motti: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they have obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it!
Darth Vader: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the potential of the Force.

Admiral Motti: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerous ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the rebels' hidden fortress…
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing

Well maybe ignoring problems and attacking or counterattacking individuals with verbal violence or force violence isn’t such a good thing.

After Vader’s attempt to bring him down a peg, Admiral Motti wasn’t feeling safe enough to remain in dialogue, so he counterattacked with labeling (“sorcerous”) and attacking (“sad devotion”).

I wonder if Crucial Conversations training could have helped.

So Vader escalates. Instead he should have recognized “uh-oh things are getting heated, hmm I am not feeling safe, but before I use the force to choke him, I should ask myself what do  really want (long-term) out of this conversation? I want a team that can help me crush the rebellion to protect the empire that I kind of thought I would rule someday.” Next he needed to recognize that Admiral Motti was feeling unsafe, what is the evidence? The labeling and attacking. Then he needed to restore safety. Well was it mutual purpose or respect at risk? Respect. Vader’s dismissive comment about the Death Star really irked his would-be minion, I mean co-worker. In this case a clarification of intent using contrasting would be useful.
”Admiral, my earlier comment was not intended as a personal attack on your engineering abilities nor on your creation. I did want to caution us all about the dangers of overconfidence. I agree that the Death Star is powerful , so too is the Force. Imagine what we can do wielding them together.”

He focuses on results

Darth Vader: Yes, Admiral?
Admiral Piett: Our ships have sighted the Millennium Falcon, Lord. But it has entered an asteroid field and we can not risk…
Darth Vader: [interupting] Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship, not excuses.

If only Vader could have learned to look he could have realized that Piett wasn’t feeling safe. As evidenced by Piett falling out of dialogue into silence. Oh wait that was his intention.

How could the recently promoted Piett handle this? He believes and with some degree of reasonability that he faces a choice between speaking up and losing his life. Is this a sucker’s choice? Is there a way he can speak up and save his life too? Probably. One key thing you learn about Crucial Conversations is about picking what conversation to have and preparing for it.

He should probably take this up at a different time, and discuss the whole pattern of killing subordinates.

”Hey, uh, Lord Vader?”
”Yes, Admiral?”
”I was wondering if I could discuss some ideas I have about helping us be an effective rebellion crushing team. Would it be ok if we spent some time discussing this?”
«In this way Admiral Piett is establishing a mutual purpose and is asking permission to broach the topic which is very powerful in being able to get to dialogue»
”Proceed, Admiral.”
”I don’t want to say your not an effective leader in the empire. I do want to discuss how to we can be more effective as a team.”
«Proactive Contrasting»
So I have noticed that my predecessor made a mistake in coming out of hyperspace too close to the planet. Then you used the force to kill him. I have observed that some of the fleet officers and myself have become more hesitant in our actions for fear of suffering similar consequences. It appears that  you might have reacted in anger, not intending to have a debilitating effect on the fleet staff. It might cause us to hesitate when we need to be bold or be afraid to tell you about a critical problem until it is too late to solve it. How do you see it?”
« This way Piett starts with the facts, tells his interpretation of the facts and asks how Vader sees it, but he does so with tentative language and in a way that encourages testing.»

”That is most unfortunate Admiral Piett.”
[Darth raises his hand making the choking motion with his fingers, but then pauses]
Vader mutters to himself, “Wait I have always wondered why I am surrounded by incompetence, perhaps this my opportunity to understand.”

Well I think Luke was right, there was good in him still.

It is so sad. Had Vader and the rest of the staff been able to remain in dialogue they might have been able to recognize their problems, and work together to solve them. In short they could have “crushed the rebellion once and for all”

Quotes from the Star Wars movies, found on: