Imagination Connoisseur, Mark Wagner, teaches leadership skills for a living and he says what the world needs now is more TNG-era Jean Luc Picard, not what we’re seeing in the new series on CBS All Access.

Kia Ora Rob,

My name is Mark Wager and I just wanted to say a big thank you from beautiful New Zealand and share some thoughts on the series STAR TREK: PICARD (ST:PICARD).

Before I do, I want you say thank you for sharing your views on the quality (or lack of) of recent sci-fi writing especially in Star Trek. It’s amazing just how easily we adjust our standards to the environment around us. It’s really important to have people like you, who care so much about a genre that they are willing to intelligently critique it. Your views have encouraged me to expect more from sci-fi, I’ve never seen your comments as nit picking or being critical for the sake of it but instead as someone who wants the genre to be the best it can be – so thank you or as we say in New Zealand Kia mihi.

The comment I want to make about ST:PICARD is the one thing that is making me incredibly dispensed is that Picard is no longer portrayed as a leader.

My profession is that of a Leadership Coach. It’s my job to train leaders, so this topic means a lot to me. The very first scene of the series had Picard playing cards with Data in which Picard demonstrates his intellect by knowing when Data is bluffing. I know it was a dream sequence, but it demonstrated how capable Picard is and just why he had such an acclaimed career in Starfleet.

This scene made me excited for the series – yet with each episode, that excitement has been diminished.

In a recent episode, Picard went to a cafe with a stay away sign. He then threw the sign to the floor entered the cafe with full knowledge that his presence would cause trouble (which it did) and ended with a former senator having his head cut off. None of this seemed to effect Picard in anyway.

This is not the behavior of a leader and throughout my life of watching sci-fi, leader is the first world that comes to mind when I hear the name: Jean Luc Picard. Later in the same episode, as his ship is being attacked, he has no plan or ideas and has to be rescued. The following episode, Picard is reduced to being a fancy-dress pirate with apparently no plan or any influence on his team.

He’s become just a passenger on his own show.

You might wonder why I care. Leadership is a very complicated skill set which requires an understanding of complex psychology principles in order to be effective. In my work, I’ve found one way to make theories more accessible is to use fictional characters that people can relate to.

In the Season 3 episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (ST:TNG) “Who Watches the Watcher?” Picard uses coaching techniques in order to explain to a primitive race why he is not a god. A client of mine saw this and coaching questions suddenly made sense far more than hours of lecturing could.

Throughout ST:TNG, Picard demonstrates many leadership qualities. This made a huge impression on me at the time, realizing that being a leader didn’t have to mean you had to be the biggest or strongest person – but it did mean you had to be an intelligent and, above all, a good person.

I’m disappointed that today’s generation won’t receive the same lessons that I learned growing up because today’s ST:PICARD contains no lessons on leadership (or even any lessons about being a good person). I’m re-watching Season 3 of ST:TNG and I’ve just seen an episode in which the crew explores their feelings about the death of a crew member. Now, 30 years later, people are being beheaded and killed and it doesn’t mean anything.

Life is now meaningless – which I imagine is the opposite of Gene Roddenberry’s original vision.

Storytelling throughout history, in whatever form it comes, has played an important role in sharing lessons about life and leadership. Today (more than ever) it’s important to have fictional leaders we can look up to … especially when, in real life, we have people in leadership roles who demonstrate none of the qualities that we need them to have.

Whatever happens in the remaining episodes of ST:PICARD, I hope we get what the title promises. Picard, I mean the real Picard. The leader. The man who is selfless, lives by the values he holds dear, and treats life with respect.

I miss Picard – the man that inspired me to become a leader. The man who inspired me to go down the path of training other Leaders.

I miss him and I hope he comes back.

Mark Wager

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