Management Lessons from Star Wars: Vader Does Not Hesitate to Remove Dead Weight

There comes a time in any organisation when we tend to find ourselves stuck with an employee that does not seem to function well in his assigned function, does not get along with any of his team mates and routinely shows blatant display of incompetence. If the company does not eliminate this cancer in the team, it will start to cause resentment towards both the “diseased” employee but also the company; viewing it as unable to make the right decisions to remove the cancer.

The Empire, Darth Vader in particular has an extremely LOW tolerance of incompetence in his subordinates.

In the opening acts of the Empire Strikes Back, Admiral Kendall Ozzel is shown to the audience to be an inept, arrogant and very disappointing Admiral in charge of the fleet; let’s look at his list of mistakes:

  • Ozzel is obviously not a good team player nor an effective leader/manager, when advised by then Captain Piett that there might be a good lead to the location of the hidden rebel base on Hoth; Admiral Ozzel just dismisses it without further enquiry or action.
  • He proceeds to blatantly patronizes his boss (Darth Vader) when he enquires on the recent findings, he expresses his doubts with Vader that the lead could be a false lead while not doing any due diligence on the information presented; clearly showing his incompetence and lack of initiative.
  • Based on his arrogance and obvious disregard for information provided by his team, he proceeds to enter the Hoth system to supposedly “surprise” the Rebel Alliance.

This run-up list of mistakes would culminate in a case study of a complete waste of resources on the part of the Empire; what should have been a simple orbital bombardment of the rebel base before it has the chance to activate its shields is now a costly ground assault. Because of Admiral Ozzel’s incompetence, the Imperial fleet has essentially lost the element of surprise, giving the Rebels a chance to prepare for their attack; now Vader has to commit his ground forces in a frontal assault that will waste resources and possibly a large number of casualties.

In this instant, Vader takes the initiatives to contact the foolish Admiral Ozzel and immediate murders him via a telekinetic force choke; after which he promotes the only competent officer in line, which is Captain Piett.

Although I do not condone you murder inept employees which will never end well.  Yet in cases like these with our own corporate settings, we are sometimes complicit to the fact that we allow incompetent, unqualified or simply unmotivated staff to create feelings of ill-will, poor morale, spreading rumours or even worse, sabotage corporate efforts to earn large profits and market share.

A fellow entrepreneur pal once coined this quote which I wholly agree, “In order to keep the right people, we need to fire the right people!”

In a lot of talent management scenarios, it is hard to let go of any talent but if the talent is indeed detrimental to the overall mission of the organizational goals; it is indeed prudent to perform a proper evaluation of said employee. to see if there is any way for HR to salvage the situation, conduct a proper debrief and individual climate survey to see if there were any patterns of responses that can indicate the viability of retaining the talent or not.

Use of psychometric tools or an internal coach is another option to ascertain the source of this negative attitude within the employee and perhaps attempt to salvage a viable member of the organization.

The scenes from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back referenced in this article was used for creative and academic purpose only. Star Wars® and all related references to its movies, all images and fictional characters is the registered trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd.

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