If you’ve watched Battlestar Galactica — and if you haven’t, what are you thinking? — you know Starbuck. She’s the edgy, undisciplined Viper pilot on a mysterious quest when she’s not emotionally torturing Apollo, her erstwhile boyfriend and commanding officer. Though she does allow herself a cry every now and then, people don’t come tougher. She’s attacked Cylons with butter knives, was ready to follow an order to nuke herself, came face to face with her own burned corpse (one of those teary moments), and always manages to dust herself off and go back to work.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m going all kinky on you, here’s why I want Starbuck: I want her as a coach. For all her moodiness, she steamrollers people to get things done but few don’t respect her. She understands the mission, knows her role, and when push comes to shove will do pretty much anything to get the job done.
I realize that, say, project management or software development aren’t the same as searching for Earth while being chased by an overwhelming force bent on your annihilation. But we all have our days, and it’s for those I want Starbuck. Consensus and teamwork are always important, but sometimes we’re so afraid of having the group go against us, we back away from making the arguments we should. Fierce passion, expressed correctly, can go a long way toward bringing people around to your point of view.
You have to know your stuff, of course — the business, the problem you’re trying to solve, how you plan to get it done. And, passion should never equal rudeness. But nothing that comes out of Starbuck’s mouth is ever half-assed, or half-felt. She knows her stuff, she believes in her conclusions, and she goes from there.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and they rarely balance out. I know folks who are mostly strength, but the majority of people — including me — tend to believe they dip in the other direction. To find the balance, you need to be honest with yourself about where you should bulk up. That’s hard. Aside from showing me how to argue more effectively, Starbuck would dope slap me to get me to look in the mirror.
Now, of course, Starbuck (who plays Katee Sackhoff in real life) isn’t going to show up at my door any time soon. But it would be nice if I could channel her toughness, her smarts, and her passion. The cynics out there might say I’d just be more annoying in meetings. But I’d argue that when a bunch of people get together for a strong and honest debate, they come out with better conclusions, smarter project plans, and a tighter sense of cohesiveness. They won’t get the cool uniforms and such the Galactica crew wears, but sometimes a good day at work can be satisfying in and of itself.