Wednesday, 30 July 2014

What can Jack Bauer teach us about leadership?


I’ve recently had a bit of an obsession with the series ‘24’. As I pound through the pounds on the cross trainer (yeah, right), I've found the excitement has kept me going. That, and the fact that there are A LOT of episodes. With 25 minutes left to watch of the final episode of season 8, I have realised that Jack Bauer, the lead character, shows some great leadership qualities.



Jack Bauer is an open-minded individual. He always listens to his team and considers all options in order to evaluate the input from all possible angles.

The best leaders (having considered all possible outcomes) are always considering potential opportunities and obstacles that could come up in the future. They are attempting to avoid any issues in advance. Jack Bauer ensures he is prepared for every eventuality, often correctly anticipating the next move of his evil foe before even they know what they are going to do. He is forward thinking and always takes the initiative.

Have you ever seen Jack Bauer flummoxed by an unexpected situation? No. He is adaptable and flexible in his approach, always open to change and ready to adjust to new situations. Never one to avoid difficult situations, Jack will always put himself out of his comfort zone if he thinks it’ll further his mission.

Even in a difficult situation, Jack Bauer will take time to respect others. He knows that in doing this, he will ultimately earn respect. He is also confident of his ability, and for good reason: he has earned it and has proven himself. He doesn’t brag about how good he is however, he is quietly certain of what he can achieve.

The key to success during any mission, Jack Bauer knows that knowledge is power. And he will use everything he has in his power to create new avenues. He is resourceful and keeps his networks alive so that he always has new avenues to explore for assistance and advice. 

Concise and to the point, we often see Jack Bauer get his message across quickly and with impact (particularly during emergency phone calls to the office). He is a fantastic communicator. If only my phone battery lasted as well as his. But that’ll be a CTU thing, right?

Whatever his plan, Jack Bauer always manages to persuade people to join him in his quest, even if it is initially against their better judgement. He is persuasive and  inspiring, and people want to help and work with him. Part of this desire to support is because of his integrity. He understands that people will do more for him if they trust his word. And so he doesn’t mislead people (unless it is part of the bigger picture – they always understand later). Also Jack Bauer’s genuine enthusiasm is contagious.

He gives praise and thanks where due, and brings individuals into his close circles that he can trust, enabling them to develop new and exciting skills, and to improve themselves in ways they may never have imagined. Because Jack Bauer surrounds himself with a team he trusts, he is always happy to delegate. Huge responsibilities down to minutiae, he is always looking at the bigger picture and confidently relies on his team.

Finally, he is consistent. There are no ups and downs. Everyone knows what they are getting with Jack Bauer. And that is why they (I) love him. Bring on season 9.

Who is your leadership guru? 

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