Mulgrew on Janeway’s Leadership Style

Kate Mulgrew on Captain Janeway’s leadership style, in an interview in Starlog, March 1995 issue.

Leadership-style command has to embrace, but it has to be firm. She’s warm, compassionate, very strong. She can be fierce if necessary. She can be abrupt if absolutely necessary, and there will be no nonsense about who is in charge when she is in command. 

However, she’s open to suggestions. The writers are already very attuned to that. Many times, you’ll see Janeway change a thought or an opinion in mid-sentence because she understands that B’Elanna has an angle on a situation that she missed, or Chakotay says something that makes great sense and she changes her thinking. There’s a wonderful flexibility in this tower of strength.

And another excerpt:

Let’s just say that I’m having a conversation with Chakotay and I’m making a call about us leaving a certain planet, and that means obliterating the planet. I’m playing three different things at once there.

I’m letting Chakotay know I’m in command, that I have to overcome him as both the First Officer and as a male who’s used to running his own ship. Secondly, I’m making a decision based on my background as a military person. Third, I’m overcoming my instinct as a woman to possibly say something nurturing.

All of that has to be read by the audience instantly in what transpires in the scene. It’s n ot good if I just say, ‘Look, pal, we’re going to do this, and that’s it.’ You have to see the internal conflict. That’s what makes her – I should say that’s what will make her, if I can do this properly – compelling for people.

I love that she was putting this amount of thought into her scenes and how the character’s background and relative position as a woman would influence how she’d behave. This definitely brought to mind scenes where you can see those wheels turning in Mulgrew’s head and it makes me appreciate even more what she was trying to bring to the character of Janeway.

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