HR lessons from a distinguished astronaut

by |
Chris Hadfield knows what it means to be an exceptional leader – he was one of two specialists, from a pool of 5,000, to be selected by the Canadian Space Agency in its last round of recruitment.
 
One of his greatest insights from operating in space lies in the power of a shared objective. When leaders are able to pool resources on a common mission, and maintain that focus over the long run, almost any obstacle becomes surmountable.
 
“It’s really important in anybody’s business to look beyond the current squabbles and think about the long term,” said Hadfield. “The same countries that went to war 50 years ago work together to go to space. That’s the difference a common goal can make.”
 
In addition, he emphasizes the need to scrutinize every detail, even ones that seem irrelevant or immaterial to the project at hand. In fact, he points to the 2003 Challenger space shuttle disaster as a key instance where managerial oversights led to a fatal catastrophe.
 
According to an official U.S. government report following that tragedy, “In our view, the NASA organizational culture had as much to do with this accident as the foam.” It cited such agency oversights as budget reductions, lax testing protocols due to past success, and managerial complacency.
 
Hadfield experienced his own emergency when he had to attach a docking module to space station Mir, but its sensors were emitting incongruent measurements. He reverted to a technique he learned in the stimulator, which involved using his thumb to measure distance and a stopwatch to determine when to fire the necessary thrusters.
 
“It was purely the result of visualizing failure and sweating the small stuff,” he said. “Sweat the small stuff, because that’s where your life is and that’s where success is going to lie.”
 
For more, click here.
 
  • Diane Bates on 2014-11-24 2:50:14 PM

    Chris Hadfield was an outstanding candidate along with Dave Williams & Julie Payette. All had remarkable backgrounds & exhibited exceptional leadership skills. Alan Davis & Associates won the outsourced contract to manage the astronaut recruitment campaign on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency. Out of the 5,300 applicants, we generated a long list of 300 qualified candidates, 100 were interviewed in-person across Canada & the Top 20 spent a week in Ottawa undergoing interviews and medicals. We met an awesome bunch of exceptional Canadians. What a country!

HRM Online forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions