5 leadership lessons I learned from Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren Drawing by Lucas ElliottThe latest installment of the Star Wars saga has been out for a little more than a month and I think it’s time to shed some light on the leadership lessons we can all learn from the film’s petulant and brooding villain, Kylo Ren.

Kylo might not be a servant leader, a beloved leader, or even a good leader, but that doesn’t mean he can’t teach us something valuable. (Mild spoilers ahead)

1. Care. A lot.

Kylo Ren has a tendency to get a little excitable when things don’t go his way, but I think it’s just because he cares so much about ruling the entire galaxy. Throwing a temper tantrum is rarely a good thing for an effective leader, but I think it is incumbent upon each of us to care about the work we are doing and the people we are leading.

2. Work around obstacles

He may take this a little too far by resorting to murder, but Kylo also teaches a powerful lesson about refusing to let circumstances prevent us from moving toward our very best work. It can be easy for you and I to allow obstacles to derail our projects, but Kylo shows us that most obstacles can be circumvented with a little creativity. But for real, don’t kill people.

3. Stay true to your values

Kylo, a legit villain, wrestles with a pull toward the “light” side of the force, but he refuses to be corrupted. Once again, he gets this a bit backwards, but I appreciate his commitment to what he believes. Figure out what you stand for as a leader and don’t compromise your values. (Hopefully those values don’t include the destruction of the Hosnian System.)

4. Don’t get distracted by technology

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve never seen Kylo Ren stop to check his email or update his Facebook status. Whether he’s interrogating a prisoner or engaged in a lightsaber battle, Kylo never lets technology distract him. Strong leaders are focused and present in spite of the buzzes and dings of tweets and texts.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

In a defining moment, Kylo Ren was willing to ask his father for help, demonstrating that leaders don’t have to be great at everything. That moment didn’t work out so well for dear old dad, but we all need help from time to time and leaders should never be afraid to engage the strengths of others.

It is unlikely that Kylo Ren will ever be the poster child for great leadership, but hopefully this very tongue-in-cheek critique of his leadership qualities will help you take unusually good care of the people around you.


A huge thanks goes to brilliant artist (and fellow Alaskan) Lucas Elliott for letting us use his drawing of Kylo Ren in this post. Find out more about him here and follow his Instagram feed for more of his remarkable work.

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