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Do you work in a high trust or low trust team?

August 3, 2022
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Just after the launch of Apollo 12 mission in 1969 the rocket was struck by lightning - shutting off the electrics and causing a probable aborted mission.

Immediately John Aaron a junior flight engineer on the ground at Mission Control, suggested a solution to his Flight Director.

Although none of his superiors had any idea what he was talking about Aaron had run through this simulation numerous times in training and knew that it would probably work in getting the systems back online.

Without question the team acted on the engineer’s advice, relayed this to the flight team and brought power back to the engines, saving the mission.

What is fascinating about this story is that in the critical moment a suggestion from a junior was taken on and followed through because of the level of trust that everyone had in his ability and competence.

It takes time to build this level of trust in an organisation but how many of us go through our working week with CCs and BCCs from people trying to protect themselves?

What impact does this have on the level of trust in your team?

If we agree that building trust long-term is good for the performance of the organisation then how are you facilitating that as a leader?

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A great place to start this week is to encourage your teams to speak up and to start valuing disagreement in the decision making process.

  • How can you be deliberate about that with your team?
  • What situations are you creating that help people practice healthy debate and disagreement?

Thank you to Dave Williams and his excellent book for this story - ‘Leadership Moments from NASA: Achieving the impossible'.

Introspection in leadership

Chances are by the time you are reading this your inbox is already full to bursting with items that are URGENT or require your IMMEDIATE ATTENTION!

The trouble is that for many this is not just the pattern of a Monday morning but for the whole week.

Working in this way all of the time excludes the opportunity for reflection and feedback as a tool to improve our performance.

Getting into the habit of reflecting on our behaviour, performance, challenges and the impact of our interventions is an important way to get better.


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