I had the opportunity to interview General Jefferson Howell yesterday as a part of our Spend Your Lunch with...Speaker Series. "Beak" was leading the Johnson Space Center at the time of the Columbia explosion which killed all seven crew members on board. His reminiscing of the event and his actions brought to mind several thoughts on leadership:
1. Leadership is about people - General Howell took care of the families of the astronauts as well as the extended family of all those who worked at the Johnson Space Center
2. Leadership is about mission and vision - General Howell had to get everyone re-focused in order to get back into space. Rather than playing the blame game, he helped them move forward again after the devastation.
3. Leadership is about people AND mission - General Howell could never just focus on one or the other. He had to make sure that people were taken care of and that NASA moved forward in in its mission. The interesting paradox is that as he took care of people, the mission was accomplished even more quickly.
One other of "Beak's Rules of Leadership" included the adage Don't argue with an idiot. Arguing with an "idiot" can take a lot of time and no one really wins. I'm going to remember that for awhile - but I am going to remember General Howell and his leadership style for much longer!