Apollo 13 and Leadership
On April 10th James “Jim” Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise embarked on one of the most historic missions in NASA history. Three days later on April 13th, while performing a routine stir on the O2 tanks, the Apollo 13 mission suffered a terrible electrical malfunction and was forced to make an emergency return mission. The movie has forever contributed two phrases to our everyday cultural vocabulary, “Houston we have a problem”, communicated by Jim Lovell, and “Failure is not an option”, voiced by Gene Kranz. A Leader
Gene Kranz, the legendary flight controller for NASA during the Apollo 13 mission motivated his team and executed careful planning, extraordinary leadership skills, and also was able to effectively delegate task affiance amongst his team of NASA scientists. 1)
As a charismatic and strong leader, Gene respected the judgment and knowledge of each specialty area in his team. Controllers had to develop an intricate non programmed decision 500-step checklist for powering the command module back up in preparation for re-entry, revising it several times in the hours leading up to the spacecraft’s return to Earth. Each team member was held accountable to perfect their individual task, and in result each step was executed correctly resulting in a flawless “successful failure” mission. 2)
Even though Gene showed patience and diligence, nobody is perfect, especially with intuitive decision making. As the movie continues the excessive number of problems and potential alternatives seemed to be infinite, and Gene begins to lose his cool. This is shown by an outburst in regards to obtaining the startup electrical procedure. Since there is no prior experience and situation history to formulate the plan from, Gene must consider the learning curve of his team to develop this electrical startup procedure. Key Theory
Many traits seem to be synonymous with leadership such as intelligence, personality, supervisor ability, etc....
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