Leadership Spotlight

Lessons from the Living Room

We all recognize that the leaders of the future are the children of today. We also see how our childhoods differ from those of our kids. Our children face constant stimulus from the Internet, cable television, and gaming systems. Their generation prefers to communicate via text, e-mail, or a social networking Web site. All of these modern conveniences seem to suggest that the resulting void in face-to-face communication threatens the ability of our children to lead later in life. It is our responsibility to discover ways to enrich these skills while recognizing that we live in an ever-changing world.

My sons are captivated by the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series. Every Friday, it is pizza night on the living room floor as they prepare for the next battle between the Republic (the good guys) and the Separatists (the bad guys). Each episode begins with a quote that vanishes into space. Our family does something that differs, perhaps, from others. We discuss the meaning of the quote, not only as it relates to the episode but to real life.

My sons have favorites. “A wise leader knows when to follow.” “Great leaders inspire greatness in others.” Interestingly, both also selected this quote: “The first step to correcting a mistake is patience.” They said that every episode features someone making a mistake while trying to do something good. I have taught them not to fear mistakes or failures for, if they do, they will never have the opportunity to succeed. In the series, characters discuss and address mistakes. The individuals do not face ridicule or severe discipline. Instead, they are given the opportunity to develop and grow, much like I hope these simple discussions will help my boys grow.

These simple quotes and lessons resonate with my family and, more important, provide an opportunity to engage each other in active dialogue. They also may resonate with your officers. Taking the time to engage them in dialogue, maintain their interest, build their trust, and give them an opportunity to develop and grow always prove worthwhile. 

Special Agent Art Gonzales of the FBI Leadership Development Unit at the FBI Academy prepared this Leadership Spotlight.