Humans are shaped through experiences. Immerse in a new experience, and you build your character, redefining your values and mission.
It’s a phenomenon that plays out in fictional worlds too. In the new Star Wars series from Disney+, The Book of Boba Fett, viewers have a front-row seat to transformation when Boba Fett is taken in by the sand people (the “Tusken Raiders”) after being left for dead — it completely reshapes him.
In my role as the founder and CEO of Optimyzed Brain, I often take inspiration from heroic characters, and Boba Fett is a powerful example to all entrepreneurs and executives who are called to lead during tough times. Boba Fett has inspired me to build and lead a global business during turbulent times, and his character offers some important lessons that might motivate you to lead with conviction too.
1. Do what it takes to retain A-players
Boba Fett’s ambitions change after a life-altering experience with the Tusken Raiders. Instead of working for various bosses as a “bounty hunter,” he wants to build and lead his own empire. So, he asks Master Assassin Fennec Shand to join him on this mission, saying, “You can only get so far without a tribe.” At first, Fennec refuses. She tells him that she’ll do the various jobs but wants to be an independent contractor, as she values her freedom.
Similarly, in your journey as a business leader, you’ll meet amazing A-players who aren’t convinced to commit 100% to your mission yet. So what do you do to persuade them?
Take a page out of Boba’s book; he’s seen Fennec in action. He needs someone who not only has the muscles, but also the brains. Fennec has both. To retain her, Boba presents competitive terms that no one has before: “I will cut you in on all the success and pledge my life to protect yours.”
As a business leader, signing and retaining A-players might require a variety of perks. What do those look like? It could be equity in the company, generous parental leave or unlimited vacation days — the possibilities are near-limitless.
2. People don’t see your good intentions, do good anyway
In your pursuit to make a positive impact through your business, you’ll need to collaborate with various parties to deliver results at scale. What do you do when other parties aren’t willing to forge an allyship to help you achieve mutually beneficial targets?
When Boba Fett becomes the new leader (Daimyo) of the Mos Espa territory, he wants to forge bonds with the leaders of other nearby regions. He feels cooperation rather than competition will protect their planet from threats. But when Boba Fett proposes an alliance to the leaders so that all can prosper, he faces objections. Others don’t see it as their problem. One even challengees Boba’s leadership, saying that it’s Boba’s territory under attack, not theirs, and there is no reason to spill the blood of their ranks.
What will you do when others don’t see eye-to-eye with you on a mutually beneficial mission?
Boba stood up and fiercely responded, “Then I will fight these battles alone. I will vanquish these interlopers who threaten our planet. I will make the streets safe again, so all in this room can prosper.” Not only did Boba decide to lead on his own, but he also did so in a selfless way for the benefit of all parties.
When you’re approaching an organization to partner with you, consider how you can lead to win for all, even if people aren’t necessarily willing to collaborate.
3. Stand firm on your guiding principles
When you step into a powerful leadership position, you’ll have your close circle, such as investors, your senior leadership team and maybe even immediate family members whispering directions in your ears with good intentions. But how do you cut through the noise? How do you make a decision when faced with conflicting views?
Once again, we can learn from Boba Fett. As the new Daimyo, the people near him provide sound advice that he needs to signal strength to be accepted by the people of Mos Espa. His droid brings in the two bodyguards of the former Daimyo of Mos Espa and advises torturing them so that their cries send a powerful message across the land. But that’s not the type of leader Boba wants to be, so he rejects the droid’s advice, later saying, “Jabba [the former Daimyo] ruled with fear. I intend to rule with respect.”
If you don’t know your inner guiding values and principles, it will be challenging to make decisions during tough times, especially when the advice from your close circle sounds like it’s for your benefit. What values can you rely on to make decisions during uncertain times?
4. Negotiate with clear intentions
As a business leader, you receive by giving something. How do you ensure that this give-and-receive exchange has clear terms when it’s not based on monetary transactions? To become excellent at negotiation, watch how others do it.
Boba Fett continuously negotiates for resources throughout his leadership. When Boba becomes the Daimyo of the Mos Espa territory, his droid brings in the previous leader’s two bodyguards, reporting that they wouldn’t surrender. Although the droid advises killing the bodyguards, Boba instead asks, “Would you be loyal to me if I were to spare your lives?” Boba knows that he needs a team of those he can trust the most with his life, so he makes it clear to the two bodyguards that he will not kill them if they remain loyal.
When someone asks you for something in a business exchange, consider how to negotiate the terms so the other party recognizes the full value you have to offer.
5. Be hyper-focused on one clear-cut mission
In your business journey, you will be faced with many challenges and distractions that can get you off your path. Why are you a leader in this business? Who are you doing this business for? When you have to sacrifice, do you protect shareholders, employees or customers?
Boba Fett is challenged on his mission repeatedly. In the end, he faces the villain, Cad Bane, who is ready to murder Boba. Before Cade Bane pulls the trigger, he asks Boba about his angle. Boba responds, “This is my city. These are my people. I will not abandon them.” Then with one swift move, Boba fights back to protect what matters to him the most — his people.
During hardships, what will you fight for? When unprecedented times arrive, will you take the easy way out and leave, or will you stay to fight with and for your people?
In the new Disney+ Star Wars series, the heroic Boba Fett character has empowered me to rethink how I lead at Optimyzed Brain to address a pressing worldwide issue: mental well-being at work. It inspired me to bring more empathy, humility and stronger conviction to serve my company’s global mission to help more entrepreneurs and executives upgrade their performance by optimizing their brains. Perhaps watching the seven-part series, The Book of Boba Fett, is just the leadership inspiration you need to unleash the warrior within you during tough times.