Starship Enterprise Needs Both Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

G. Thomas Herrington and Patrick T. Malone

Star Date 2314. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...With these words, movie and television viewers all over the world realize they are in for another hair-raising, interstellar adventure of the Enterprise and its courageous Captain James T. Kirk and First Officer Mr. Spock.

Anyone who has ever seen a Star Trek episode understands the dynamic relationship between Kirk and Spock, the two officers who lead the USS Enterprise crew on its journeys through space. Time and time again, the crew and ship encounter danger and near destruction, but the day and the spaceship are always saved thanks to the actions of the emotionally-charged Kirk and the ever-logical Spock.

To escape danger and achieve success, the USS Enterprise needs both Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Kirk is more emotional, often making spur of the moment decisions based on "gut emotions" or his heart. Spock, on the other hand, is the logical one, the leader who uses facts to determine his decision making.

Each man has his strengths and weaknesses, but it is the blending of Spock’s logic and Kirk’s emotion that is key. This same combination of logic and emotions can be your secret to success in business, at home, and in community life.

Business, as with the Starship Enterprise, is not a meeting of the minds, but a meeting of the heart with the mind.

Not everyone see facts the same way. When people consider facts, they typically overlay how they feel about the facts and ultimately make decisions based on what they are most comfortable with or confident in. We know this is true based on years of Nobel Prize winning research and decades of our own leadership studies. (Click on image to enlarge.)


To be effective, successful people must connect with both facts and feelings, and more importantly, recognize that people view facts differently depending on how they feel. For example, seeing a dangerous snake while you are hiking creates a totally different emotion than seeing that same snake behind glass at the zoo. You process facts one way when you are afraid and another when you interested.

Logic then is relative to emotion. For those professions that envy Mr. Spock’s logical approach to problem solving and influencing, working with others can be a challenge because emotions are involved. Mr. Spock would describe this aspect of considering both emotion and logic as "fascinating."

Another point to note is that feelings are momentary and change. To be effective, you must be able to read a situation well if you are able to lead the conversation and influence the outcome. For you to be an effective leader at home or in the office, you must be able to confidently apply logic that fits the momentary level of emotion.

For example, a person who perceives risk regarding an action or decision needs to have that risk reduced before he or she acts. Your key to reducing the risk is to understand what is risky to other person. Someone who is skeptical needs some type of proof in order to proceed. The secret lies in knowing what proof they need. To be successful, you must treat the other person’s view and momentary emotion, with respect. One tactic is to argue your approach and provide data to support your argument, but that would regrettably not build the support or buy-in you would need to succeed.

People don’t reach confidence without supporting logic and facts. When followers are reserved or interested, they need information to reach the confidence to follow or act in concert. We have all experienced a co-worker, family member who was too excited to explain how they arrived at their decision. Their Captain Kirk, rapid fire, One, Two, Five approach was too fast, didn’t allow processing of facts, and caused most people to be anxious at best.

To have others follow you and to be successful at home, at the office or in civic activities, you must be both a Captain Kirk and a Mr. Spock. Like both men, you must first be able to read a situation. Next you must apply Spock’s logic in a way that fits the emotion, then build rationale with logic and finally recommend your decision with Kirk’s confidence.

In Star Date 2010, we all need a bit of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock inside us to be successful.

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