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Trooper Syndrome – Leadership Principle

In the prequels the clone troopers come swooping in and support the Jedi. You know the story. They’re awesome, effective, superior, and mobile. Kids love the clone troopers in this generation. There are games just for the clone troopers. They’re an important part of the prequels. By the time you get to Return of the Jedi everyone is asking, “How could Ewoks defeat the storm troopers?” Seriously, an amazing force destroyed by teddy bears with rocks.

Fanboys answered the question by stating that, by the time you get to Return of the Jedi the clone troopers have been cloned so many times that the resulting stormtroopers are nothing like their first generation ancestors. Yes, I know it’s science fiction but it seriously reminds me of a large organizational quandary for leaders.

The bigger your organization gets the harder it is to manage. One of the temptations in growth is to organize it for ease. As a leader you will have a lot of headaches as your organization grows but realize that you’re experiencing growth because of your grass roots creativity, innovation, and effort. This is what attracted people to work with you or for you. They fought harder, worked harder, died harder.

Don’t seek to corral the diversity and move it to uniformity and structure. When you clone an organization, system, model, or work you eventually define it to dullness and inauthenticity. It would be better not to grow for the sake of healthy growth than to push momentum at the expense of “real” organizational growth.

Yes, you need bumpers and steps to move people along and free them up in their area of responsibility, but you can’t label your success into one single element and then clone everything and everyone around it. 

Sooner or later you’ll look around and feel like you’re leading idiots and everyone is dying off or being defeated by the “smallest” of challenges. Your empire effectively destroyed from within because of short-cuts and the need to make things easy or cookie-cutter. With clones everyone is the same but in life people are different, behave different, think different, and lead different. Understand this and realize there is no cloning success… not anymore… and especially in our present day and age.

If you tell people there is only one way to do things expect people to either mindlessly follow or leave with their diverse talents and gifts.

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Chad Swanzy has served in youth ministry for 15 years and currently works as the student ministry director at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. Learn more from Chad and ask him your questions at ChadSwanzy.com.