Failure is always an option, and so is choosing to lead your team into an environment that helps them avoid catastrophe and pull off miracles. For more than fifty years, NASA’s Mission Control has done just that.
Take the ultimate insider’s look at the leadership values and culture that made that track record possible. Paul Hill paints a vivid picture, candidly portraying the critical cultural connections in human spaceflight triumphs and failures. By demonstrating how his Mission Control team learned to steward this culture into their management roles, Paul provides a guide for any organization to boost their own performance by leveraging the core ideas and values that have delivered “impossible” wins for decades.
Whether failure means cost and schedule overruns, quality escapes, loss of market share, bankruptcy, or putting people’s lives at risk, how we lead can determine whether even small mistakes snowball out of control and destroy an enterprise.
Discover how to take Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom, and enable this leadership environment in your team.
Part 1: The Real-Time Morality of Spaceflight (Finding Our Religion) 15
Chapter 1: Clear Alignment to Purpose 17
Chapter 2: Demonstrated Behaviors that Reinforce Alignment 37
Chapter 3: Trained to Be Trusted 55
Chapter 4: Summary of Part 1: The Real-Time Morality of Spaceflight 78
PART 1: THE REAL-TIME MORALITY OF SPACEFLIGHT—KEY POINTS 95
Part 2: Management Clouds the Morality (Losing Our Religion) 97
Chapter 5: Intentions and Practices 99
Chapter 6: Applying the Morality as Managers 118
Chapter 7: The Leader’s Perspective 154
Chapter 8: Summary of Part 2: Management Clouds the Morality 181
PART 2: MANAGEMENT CLOUDS THE MORALITY—KEY POINTS 200
Part 3: Transforming the Leadership Team (Regaining Our Religion) 203
Chapter 9: Ideas that Inspired Leadership Evolutions in Mission Control 205
Chapter 10: Make It Personal, Make It Permanent 247
Chapter 11: Demonstrating the Morality as Managers 265
Chapter 12: Summary of Part 3: Transforming the Leadership Team 286
PART 3: TRANSFORMING THE LEADERSHIP TEAM—KEY POINTS 304
Part 4: Bon Voyage (Parting Shots) 307
Chapter 13: Tips and Challenges 309
Chapter 14: Final Thoughts 330
About the Journey 330
Author’s Personal Note 332
Notes and References 337
What can your team learn from top tier leaders at NASA Mission Control? Maybe more than you think. In Leadership from the Mission Control Room to the Boardroom, former NASA flight director Paul Hill tells the true story of the game-changing transformation of Mission Control’s senior leadership team. Ride along on a journey of evolution as these executives rediscover the core purpose and values that had never left their organization. Hill’s candor and intensity makes this a fascinating read for every leader!
— KEN BLANCHARD, COAUTHOR OF THE NEW ONE MINUTE MANAGER® AND LEADING AT A HIGHER LEVEL
There is no higher-stakes environment than NASA’s Mission Control. This incredible team’s leadership journey — and development of precise decision-making in the face of unbelievable pressure — are inspiring. Filled with fascinating insights into spaceflight and leadership alike, every leader will find parallels to their own organization. Paul’s incredible book is a must-have for anyone leading a high-performance team and an invaluable addition to any business library.
— MARSHALL GOLDSMITH – THE THINKERS 50 #1 LEADERSHIP THINKER IN THE WORLD
This is an arresting work by a former NASA Flight Director with whom I was privileged to work during the Return-to-Flight of the Space Shuttle Program in 2005. Paul Hill takes the reader through NASA’s legendary ‘Mission Control’ in a way not found in any other work with which I am familiar. From its origins in aircraft flight test, to the early days of the space program with Project Mercury, and on to the iconic time of Apollo, and from there to the Space Shuttle program, Paul Hill offers a view from the inside track to both laymen and space professionals. From there, he takes you to the business world outside of NASA, and shows how the principles and values of the Mission Operations Directorate apply in a far larger arena. No leader or manager can fail to benefit from the lessons captured here.
— MICHAEL D. GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR, 2005-09 AND SCHAFER CORPORATION CEO
Paul Hill has written a stunning ‘instructional manual’ for business executives and leaders who want to learn from the best team on the planet: The men and women of NASA’s Mission Control. For the first time, a leader of the Mission Operations Directorate of NASA shares the hard-won lessons of this world-famous organization and translates them into key principles and examples designed to hone a superior leadership team grounded in integrity and bedrock organizational values. Steeped in the lessons of history, rich with achievement and heart-rending loss, laser-focused on application and results, and above all a great narrative, this book, like its author, is one-of-a kind.
— MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE COALITION FOR DEEP SPACE EXPLORATION AND FORMER MEMBER, HUMAN SPACEFLIGHT COMMITTEE, NATIONAL ACADEMIES OF SCIENCES, ENGINEERING AND MEDICINE
This engaging book tells the story of how NASA’s renowned Mission Control evolved into an extraordinary team that directed many of the world’s greatest technical triumphs. Equally important is Paul Hill’s cautionary tale that sustaining excellence may be more difficult than attaining it. He shares how Mission Control learned the importance of articulating, modeling and nurturing its core values of technical truth, integrity and courage to maintain exceptional performance under adverse circumstances. Leaders from every organization will benefit from these vital lessons.
— WALTER E. NATEMEYER, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NORTH AMERICAN TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT