Apollo 13 Leadership Essay
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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.
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…show more content…
Many traits seem to be synonymous with leadership such as intelligence, personality, supervisor ability, etc. However, managers and true leaders support their decisions and realize that there is no exact step-by-step process to the answer. To compare with the Vroom-Jago Leadership model Gene utilized most of his decisions Group decision styles (the group makes the decision; you as the leader are just another team member). Group (G) decisions were made throughout the film, acted equally alongside his co-workers in "working the problem" by helping calculate trajectories and formulate solutions. Also, the Path-Goal model was visually displayed when Gene came up to the chalkboard, drew the course for the Apollo 13 crew from the moon’s atmosphere back to earth.
Successful leadership was realized after Gene Kranz and the Houston controlled was informed of the explosion on the Apollo spacecraft. At this point in the film he begins his journey into transformational leadership. Through intellectual stimulation he helps his team rethink rational ways oxygen can be saved using items available on the spacecraft. Also, he reminds them of the contingent reward by reminding each team member of the goal to save the astronauts lives and take control of the situation by mapping out what must be done to receive the outcome they desire.
Key Decision One of the most key and important decisions in the film is when Gene makes the call on
The film Apollo 13 represents a true story of great leaders being able to beat incredible odds. The failed mission put both the ground and flight crew in a terrible situation that could have easily broken any leader; however, the leaders refuse to be broken and successfully lead the astronauts back to safety. In the movie, there are great examples of leadership from Flight Commander Jim Lovell and Flight Director Gene Kranz as they navigate this intense mission.
Flight Commander Jim Lovell is a great leader because of how capable he is of creating a vision. Before it was announced that he would command Apollo 13, he clearly is passionate about being one of the first men on the moon. He sets his vision the night he watched Neil Armstrong take the first steps on the moon by shutting one eye and holding his thumb aimed at the moon. His strong vision allows him to maintain high morale in his team throughout the initial stages of the flight when there were a few minor issues. However, when necessary for his crew’s survival, he switches his vision to getting home safely. Although, he is fervent about visiting the moon, he is the first of the crew as they sadly pivoted around the moon to lead the change in vision, again, putting his thumb over the earth.
Flight Director Gene Kranz demonstrates the difference between being a leader and a manager. To fulfill his role, he has to appropriately manage all of the scientists and crew on the ground while simultaneously leading the mission. Kranz does not accept the status quo, by refusing to believe the astronauts would not make it back when the odds of the crew’s survival are incredibly low. When President Nixon sends a man asking for the odds of survival, Kranz in front of the team loudly declares, “We will get them all back.” This ultimately allows him to effectively lead the team. In order to accomplish this goal, he did not rely heavily on existing systems or structures but rather he trusted those around him by giving them an ambitious goal and motivating them to achieve it.
Both Flight Commander Jim Lovell’s vision and Flight Director Gene Kranz’s ability to lead rather than manage flows directly into the idea of getting people on their side. Although these characters are completely different, they both are able to have their crews completely on their side. At no point did either of these leaders have their teams lose trust in them. If both teams were not fully on board, the incredibly low odds of the team’s survival would have been even lower. These two leaders truly understand this; even though they apply a lot of pressure to their teams, it was never too much that their teams faltered. The leaders in Apollo 13 set a vision, lead instead of managed, and keep everyone on their side which ultimately allows them to safely beat incredible odds and get the crew home safely.