5 Reasons Why Obi Wan Kenobi Was a Terrible Mentor


Anakin Skywalker was mentored by the Jedi Master Obi Wan Kenobi. But did he do a good job?

We all know the story. Jedi Master (Obi Wan) agrees to mentor Padawan apprentice (Anakin Skywalker) whilst training him to be a Jedi Knight. Mentee is seduced by the Dark Side. Mentee decides that he wants to rule the Galaxy. Mentee takes on mentor in winner-takes-all light sabre battle. Mentor emerges the victor, leaving his mentee to die. (Mentee later decides that he still wants to rule galaxy but that’s a whole different set of films)

Most blame Supreme Chancellor Palpatine for Anakin’s lure to the Dark Side. Others blame Padme. Personally, I blame Obi Wan. He was a truly terrible mentor. And here are my five reasons why.

  • Lack of integrity: Throughout his training, Obi Wan labours the merits and integrity of the Jedi to his eager mentee. Jedis never give in to feelings of anger. Jedis never give in to feelings of fear. Jedis never tell lies … blah, blah, blah. However during the course of this mentorship, Obi Wan instructs his mentee to spy on the Supreme Chancellor on behalf of the Jedi Council. Did this instruction demonstrate integrity? Not in my view. A mentor should demonstrate integrity at all times to a mentee and, as a mentor, Obi Wan failed in this respect.
  • Lack of challenge: The role of mentor involves a degree of objective scrutiny. A mentor should be able to constructively challenge his mentee about any issues which are discussed between them. Obi Wan fails on each occasion to do this. But let’s face it – this is not a surprise. Obi Wan’s inability to process information about anyone other than himself should have been obvious to all of us, given his complete failure to recognise that the Supreme Chancellor was in fact the Sith Lord! It couldn’t have been more obvious, had it been tattooed on his face. A mentor requires to listen, guide and, where appropriate, criticise constructively. Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi. I am losing hope in your abilities as a mentor.
Obi Wan got a second chance at proving his mentoring skills with Luke Skywalker.
  • Dishonesty: Acting as a mentor involves complete honesty, with the occasional degree of diplomacy. However even when Obi Wan gets a second chance at mentoring Luke Skywalker, he fails to disclose various essential truths to him. Yes, he tells Luke how evil Vader was. Yes, he tells Luke that Vader “betrayed and murdered” his father. However he fails to get round to telling Luke that Vader is his actual father! There should be 100% trust and honesty between a mentor and mentee and again, Obi Wan falls down in this respect.
  • Hypocritical: A mentor requires to be admirable and accessible. In my view, Obi Wan completely lacks these qualities and, at times, verges on being hypocritical and remote. Do we remember him telling Anakin that, at the age of nine, he was too old to begin Jedi training? Why then does Obi Wan wait for nineteen years before commencing Luke’s training? What a hypocrite. And what was he playing at living like a hermit in these caves whilst Luke was growing up. As a mentor, the door should always have been open to the mentee. Game over, Obi Wan. Game over.
  • Uninspiring: Let’s face it. Obi Wan is uninspiring. His style of mentoring involves lecturing and patronising his mentee. Moulding does not mean scolding. Instead of lecturing him on his arrogance or recording the frequent incidents of insubordination in his calendar, he should have perhaps spent some quality time with him. A mentor and mentee should aim to do fun things together, as well as the more serious side of the mentoring. You should have shared a Jawa Juice with him, Obi Wan. Or at least taken him to an ice hockey match.

As an employer, if you encourage a mentoring programme in the workplace, you should ensure that this mentoring scheme is worthwhile. All too often, an employer will set up a mentoring arrangement and then fail to give too much attention to the benefits (or not) of it. Such a scheme should be of benefit to both the mentee and the employer. In the words of Yoda, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

So if you are involved in a mentor scheme, either as a mentor or a mentee, you would be wise to remember what happened a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, with particular reference to Obi Wan’s failings as a mentor. In fact, forget about Obi Wan, Anakin and Skywalker. And look instead at Chewbacca. He turned out OK. As a mentor, why not style yourself on Han Solo instead? (Or, if you’ve seen the newest film, Han YOLO)

Good luck. And may the Force be with you.

Simon Allison
Partner – Head of Employment Law




The Christmas Cracker You’ll Wish You Never Pulled: Why I HATE the office Christmas party

I can’t decide if it is because of the inevitable prospect of seeing photos of myself on Facebook which (at the time), I had encouraged colleagues to take. Or whether it is the level of concentration required to hear what colleagues are mumbling to me at the free bar over the background noise of synth melodies and sleigh bells (Wham: Last Christmas, anyone?). Or maybe it is because of the yearly alcohol-fuelled inappropriate outburst from a colleague telling me that they have always loved me ….

That last one has never actually happened to me.

However it is not unusual for a bit of Christmas cheer mixed with a few jaegerbombs to result in a PDOA (public display of (office) affection).

Office workers beware

  • At some point before the cashroom-girls-group-selfie, you should remind yourself that unwanted advances to colleagues are likely to fall foul of the acceptable conduct standards set by your employer. Whilst at the time, you may think of your colleague as your star-crossed lover, it’s probably better for you to pick someone that you don’t have to sit next to for the rest of the year. It is likely that, if you misbehave at the office Christmas party, you are likely to be disciplined for this when you return to work on the Monday morning.
  • Additionally (and preferably before the Mailmen kill it on the karaoke), you should remind yourself that it would not be appropriate to speak more frankly to your boss about a payrise or to colleagues about their annoying habits. If you can’t say it to them sober, don’t say it to them drunk.
  • And lastly, before the employment team start tearing up the dancefloor, remember that the employer’s sickness and absence policy is likely to be applied consistently throughout the festive season. If your Christmas party is mid-week and you choose to over-indulge, it is unlikely that any subsequent duvet days will be ignored. Festive hangovers and booze flu are not likely to be acceptable reasons for absences, regardless of the timing of the office party. Don’t let yourself be the one that your colleagues talk about for the rest of the year.

Employers beware

As an employment lawyer, it is a disappointing truth that an employer is liable for any discriminatory acts of its employees which are carried out in the course of employment. This means that an employer could be liable to an employee who is faced with unwanted advances by a colleague at the office Christmas party. The law is also clear that it does not matter whether these advances are carried out with the employer’s knowledge or approval.

It is however a defence for the employer to demonstrate that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the employee from taking these actions. The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Code of Practice suggests that reasonable steps are likely to include:

  • Implementing an equality policy
  • Ensuring workers are aware of the policy
  • Providing equal opportunities training
  • Reviewing the policy as appropriate
  • Dealing effectively with employee complaints

But take my advice, as soon as you spot the first sprig of mistletoe heading in your direction or hear the opening bars of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, grab hold of your pint and run for the nearest exit…

Simon Allison
Partner – Head of Employment Law