Lesson 067: Leadership in the face of underwhelming forces
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 1/4 ('Code of Honor')


(Original) Chief of Security on board the Enterprise, Tasha Yar is kidnapped by an alien race that live by certain codes of conduct based on maintaining prestige honor above all.

Data researches the cultural ways of the alien race and discovers that the kidnapping is the established way for the leader of the alien race to show his bravery over his visitors, the crew of the Enterprise in this case.

The correct acceptable way for resolving the kidnap situation according to their culture is for Capt. Picard to 'ask politely' for the return of Yar.

In spite of the readily overwhelming strength of the Enterprise with its phasers and photon torpedoes that can lay the entire alien planet to waste, Capt. Picard chooses to oblige the alien customs and acknowledges the alien leaders bravery at taking Yar and respectfully asks for her return.


Sometimes, leadership requires showing restraint and perhaps even some form of capitulation in the desire to obtain greater goals.

Having the overwhelming power to totally destroy an enemy does not necessarily dictate usage of that power in all situations. Good leaders will always put aside their personal ego and selfish pride for the greater good and exercise restraint in resolving hostile situations before deploying force.

In the case of a hostage situation, the hostage negotiator often does more good than the horde of officers and SWAT sharp shooters bearing down on the one bad guy who has a single weapon pointed at the hostages. By simple math, the firepower of law enforcement clearly outguns the bad guy. However, such overwhelming strength is for naught if they do not have the bad guy in their sights or if the bad guy kills a hostage before being killed himself.

On the other hand, through meticulously constructed conversation by a professional hostage negotiator, the bad guy may be reached and even impacted in the right manner so as to resolve the situation peacefully through surrendering.

Deploying resources to end hostile situations forcefully may have merit in certain situations; however, the loss of life on all sides through this process is usually high. This is why leadership calls for exercising all other options before relying on brute force as the solution.

By not going in with phasers and photon torpedoes blasting, Capt. Picard manages to resolve the hostage situation with just some patronizing words, stroking the egos of the alien race leader, and without diminishing the pride of the Federation.

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