12 Leadership Lessons Principals Can Learn from Star Wars

May the force be with you!

12 Leadership Lessons for Principals from Star Wars

There are two types of people: people who love Star Wars and people who have never seen Star Wars. It was not until I became an administrator that I began seeing what the original Star Wars trilogy can teach us about great leadership. Here’s a surprise: Sometimes you will be Luke, and sometimes you will be Darth Vader.

1. You never know when you will be inspired.

You’ve been there: You see a speaker at a conference, or you read a book that inspires you completely. Great inspiration can arrive at any moment. Your job is to be ready for adventure. Open your eyes to be sure to see opportunities that might arrive.

2. Accept your mistakes.

Somewhere in the hundreds of emails you receive, there is crucial information that is going to get lost. It’s happened to all of us. Just don’t take it out on anyone else.

3. Close your eyes and leap.


There’s not always a clear path ahead. Sometimes you have to do something risky to save what’s important. But there’s upside: When your team sees you taking risks, you open up new paths for innovation and creativity for everyone.

4. Think before you shoot.


Be cautious and thoughtful when you act. You never know how your actions may reverberate in your school community.

5. Take one for the team.

Sometimes a leader has to fall on their own sword to protect the greater good, and sometimes that leader will be you.

6. Sometimes you just need to focus.


There are times when everything goes wrong. These are the moments when it’s best to just close your eyes and focus on making the best next move.

7. Sometimes things break.

What is your school’s hyperdrive? Is it your internet connection? Your boiler? Your PA system? We all have essential equipment that breaks at the worst possible time. Take a deep breath.

8. Keep your vibes positive.


Don’t assume that a daunting task is impossible. Your belief in yourself and the people around you is everything.

9. Use your power wisely.

Sometimes your presence will be seen as intimidating and immediately put people on the defensive. Be thoughtful about how your authority affects the people around you.

10. Don’t ignore your problems.


Sure, it makes sense to shelve a sticky issue that is causing problems. Sometimes it’s good to give yourself time to reflect on an issue where there is no clear solution. Don’t make Vader’s mistake, though: Deal with pressing issues sooner rather than later. With one push of a button, carbonite can be unfrozen!

11. You need an awesome team.


Behind every great administrator is a smart, spunky, and efficient administrative team with great timing. Tell them how grateful you are for their talents every chance you get.

12. Simple tools are still the best tools.

Creativity, ingenuity, and invention can be nurtured with the simplest tools. You can do great things with the simplest materials and the most meager of resources!

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Anne Rubin

Posted by Anne Rubin

Anne Gomez Rubin has been a dean and teacher in Minneapolis, MN, since 2016. She tweets about education, intersectional feminism, and tacos on Twitter at @annegrubin .