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A Lesson from Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield – Leading the Way

One of the better books ostensibly about leadership I have read is Chris Hadfield’s An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth (Random House, 2013). I didn’t start in on it with the expectation that it would enhance my own leadership, but as I often do during “down times,” I picked it up just for the sake of something to read. However, as I got into it, I kept coming across great nuggets of leadership wisdom. This should really not have been a huge surprise, as Hadfield wrote this book after returning from his mission as Commander of the International Space Station. It is filled with stories and insights into his training and development as an astronaut.

 

Marshal Goldsmith in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (Hyperion, 2007) lists twenty habits that can hold you back from being successful. The very first habit is “Winning Too Much: The need to win at all costs and in all situations – when it matters, when it doesn’t, and when it’s totally beside the point” (p. 40). Hadfield recounts a great example of this when he discusses the competitiveness of being an astronaut, and the effects of having a group of highly competitive individuals spend a significant amount of time together in a confined space. He tells the story of when his son was 10 and proudly demonstrated to his dad how many laps he could swim underwater on one breath. Without thinking, Hadfield jumped in and swam one more lap than his son. He tells this story to demonstrate the destructive power of competiveness, how it affected his son, and what he (Hadfield) learned from it. What a great illustration of the trap we often fall into as leaders: wanting to show how good we are, allowing our egos to get the best of us. Hadfield discovered that, for his situation, leadership success was actually a team sport, and that it was “the ability to work in a team productively and cheerfully in tough conditions” (p. 104); that leadership is “leading the way, not hectoring other people to do things your way” (p. 105). You can’t always indulge your need to win as an individual, because doing that in space could lead to death for the entire team. Outcomes on earth may not be that drastic, but consequences can still be dire.

 

Being competitive isn’t necessarily a bad thing — it’s a survival instinct. In fact as Hadfield points out; everyone who makes it to astronaut school does so because of über competitive nature. The problem occurs when one crosses the very thin line between being competitive and being over-competitive. It is, as Goldsmith notes “between winning when it counts and when one is counting” (p. 45). Being an effective leader is being able to give up the reins of control, or at least the perception of being in control all the time. It is about giving others their due, recognizing talent and achievements — providing opportunities for others to shine, try out their ideas, and allow space for growth.

 

 

Adding A to DEI

Adding accessibility to the DEI conversation – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion should automatically include accessibility shouldn’t it. How accessible is the space you have in your business? What about when you hold activities at your business, think of pizza days… do you think about food allergies, dietary options? What about something as basic as how that food is laid out for staff with different abilities to reach? Al something to think about.

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What is Psychological Safety?

Is it the new buzzword? The latest and greatest leadership epiphany? Or a rehash of a previous thought and/or idea? Maybe a bit of both? Whatever it is, it doesn’t diminish the real importance of the ideas and philosophy behind the message. Leadership has been on a continued journey of change and just maybe this is the right time for this message. In this week’s Vlog I explore what Psychological Safety is.

#Leadership, #Leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipcoaching, #psychologicalsafety

John K Whitehead & Associates coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence, and resiliency.

You can read my blog at http://johnkwhitehead.ca

If you have enjoyed reading these posts, please Follow Me – and if you sign up for my Blog I will send you a copy of my eBook, “What Are These Things Called Soft Skills?”

Expectations & Intentions: Why spending more time on WHY is important

For those of you who are familiar with Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” and “WHY” video https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en you will know where I am going with this. In this week’s video I equate Sinek’s WHY to leaders who spend way too much time on Expectations vs. Intentions…

#Leadership, #Leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipcoaching

John K Whitehead & Associates coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence, and resiliency.

You can read my blog at http://johnkwhitehead.ca

If you have enjoyed reading these posts, please Follow Me – and if you sign up for my Blog I will send you a copy of my eBook, “What Are These Things Called Soft Skills?”

What are Soft Skills?

 

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are those things which help us interact with others much easier. “Soft” because it’s to compare them against “hard” skills or technical skills.  In this week’s Vlog post I talk about what Soft Skills mean to me…. from a previously posted vlog post

John K Whitehead & Associates coaches individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence, and resiliency.

You can read my blog at http://johnkwhitehead.ca

If you have enjoyed reading these posts, please Follow Me – and if you sign up for my Blog I will send you a copy of my eBook, “What Are These Things Called Soft Skills?”