Project Management

Leadership in Times of Crisis

Winston Scott

Good leaders must not only be prepared for everything that might go wrong, they must come alive when faced with a predicament, large or small. A retired NASA astronaut shares five lessons on leadership.

Perhaps you’ve never been called upon to lead in a situation as fraught with potential peril as the manual capture of a $10 million, 3,000 pound, out of control satellite in outer space, but executive project leaders face major crises all the time: a scandal involving management, fall-out from an economic downturn, product malfunction, the loss of a key employee.
Leadership under extreme conditions, like those encountered aboard the space shuttle Columbia mission in 1999, requires key principles that will guide you, your team and your mission to success. The Columbia mission ultimately succeeded, and using the same principles of leadership that worked on this space mission, senior project leaders can turn an obstacle into an opportunity, too. Here are five lessons I can share from my experience on space missions.
#1: Prepare for the unknown.
A leader needs to anticipate potential problems as part of preparation. The original Columbia mission was to launch a research satellite called Spartan, but it malfunctioned almost immediately. The effort to retrieve it for repair went awry when the shuttle’s robotic arm inadvertently tipped …

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- Ingrid Bergman