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Leadership Lessons from Battlestar Galactica

Are there any leadership lessons in Battlestar Galactica, you might ask? Frankly, it was difficult to really establish anything more than command and control, but then again it was supposedly a military operation.


Here’s the best we can come up with:



Under pressure, people regularly violate their own values and act unpredictably, which ultimately brings their values and their integrity in to question.


If you treat people like machines they won’t trust you and will end up planning your demise.


Trust is easily offered, but not easily maintained.


Friendship, respect, and loyalty can overcome all sorts of differences providing we don’t let our prejudices get in the way.


Perceptions are more volatile and more potent than facts.


Trust is in the eye of the beholder.


It is unlikely the ramifications of your actions will take 150,000 years to be recognised but, then again, who knows?


If you don’t maintain the foundations of the ship and crew, both will buckle around you.


It takes a team AND it takes outstanding individuals to survive.


Even with Trust and Integrity, without Hope people will perish.


The impossible happens more often than you’d expect.


Even if you crash and burn you can still score the winning goal and lead the team to victory, then disappear without a trace.


The best Viper pilot in history only came 16th in her class at the Academy.


Watch out for the genius. He’ll end up selling your defence information for a night with a tall blonde.


Miracles don’t just happen, they take risk, good timing and massive action – usually in that order.


Just because your kids are stuck in space with you doesn’t mean they won’t be the ones leading the mutiny. They’ll almost certainly abandon you when you need them most, and why not?  They have their own destiny to fulfil.

Rely on your values, not your emotions, when working with your kids.


When the person commanding the ship yells ‘jump’ there is probably nothing you can do about it as space folds around you.


At the end of the day, people have their own best interests at heart. If those interests coincide with yours, that’s a bonus.


You can follow a dying leader, but not a dead one.


Bob Dylan is a Cylon?   Let’s face it, turns out “All Along The Watchtower” is apparently an old Cylon tune, and that certainly is Ellen Tigh’s hair.



At the end of the day, the characters in Battlestar Galactica were constructs of the writers and directors. Those characters had to endure the vagaries of plot, character development and the interpretations of many different consciences at the helm.


For all his flaws and his hang ups, Adama’s crew loved and respected him even if they didn’t agree with him.  What carried him through? Was he always right?  Was he always wise?  Was he always fair?  When did he make his best decisions?


Would real people in real situations really behave the way that they do on a TV show? Perhaps, and perhaps not. The question is: how do you think you would do if facing the a crushing life event or situation?   Unless we experience the sort of trauma projected in the plot line for real, how would we ever know?



All we can do is prepare ourselves for a time when we might have to face critical circumstances because if we wait until they actually happen it would be far too late.  What do you hear, Starbuck?


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August 14, 2019