There’s long been a strange disconnect in Star Wars between the chilling professionalism of the Galactic Empire and the cackling wrinkly space wizard that runs the show. Various media have shown us that those working for the Empire often see themselves as simply providing order to a chaotic galaxy and improving the systems they control. Then again, if you’re taking orders from a guy who looks like the literal embodiment of evil, you might start to question whether you’re really in the moral clear.
So, how many rank-and-file Imperial officers actually took orders from the Emperor, and how closely was his image managed? That’s being debated on r/StarWars, with Andor‘s Dedra Meero held up as an example of someone who might question their allegiance if they saw their boss:
One thing to consider is that Emperor Palpatine’s appearance wasn’t a closely guarded secret. The Emperor blamed his sinister visage on the Jedi, saying they did this to him when they came to arrest him in Revenge of the Sith. Beyond that, he still delivered speeches and proclamations.
That said, it’s very unlikely that a mere officer like Meero would ever meet him face to face:
It’s also noted that simply being near Palpatine lets you sense his evil, even if you’re not in tune with the Force:
It’s probably smart for the Emperor to keep his inner circle as small as possible, even if that means hanging out with stuffy Admirals and the perpetually gloomy Darth Vader all day:
But apparently, it’s not unknown for Palpatine to just pick up a phone and tell an underling what needs doing:
It’s also worth pointing out that Vader’s job is carrying out the will of the Emperor, and judging by the way he effortlessly intimidates everyone around him, we don’t see the need for the Emperor to actively be present to order people around. This is perhaps proven by the nervousness of the second Death Star command when they learned Palpatine would be appearing in person to inspect the station.
But perhaps the best way to look at it is that Palpatine is an unexpectedly good CEO and is able to efficiently delegate work.