The New CIO Leadership Team: The Right Stuff

The New CIO Leadership Team: The Right Stuff

I just came back this afternoon from a very intense retreat with my leadership team. I think I’ve had 8 hours of sleep since Monday … and that counts the nap I took today during Judge Judy. It is both clear and scary that I can’t get anywhere without a strong and competent leadership team. And it’s up to me to nurture and develop that capability which will have the tall order of supporting the mission of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. So, what does it take to do that? This is what I told them – it takes the Right Stuff.

The Right Future

A 21st century IT organization is needed to support a 21st century space agency. It is a tall order to support the high calling of advancing scientific knowledge. It takes a secure and reliable infrastructure. It takes a creative, thinking, leading workforce and a CIO that is not only a utility service provider, but is also a strategist and leader.

The Right Leader

The right leader is self-aware, self-motivating, and self-managing. She knows her strengths and weaknesses; she is trustworthy, innovative, and brave; and she is optimistic, committed, and drives for excellence.

The Right Leadership Team

The right leadership team has knowledge, experience, skills, functional and operational expertise; they understand the mission and their role in meeting the mission; and they have integrity and put mission needs above their own.

The Right Stuff

We started our retreat with the backdrop of the movie The Right Stuff. The tagline of this movie was as follows:

They were ordinary men and women who shared a common ambition and what they achieved together captured the imagination of the world

The ordinary men and women took risks to pioneer the early efforts of our space program. They were made of the right stuff.

The skills and competencies to do this need to be developed, nurtured, and demonstrated. Supporting an IT program that provides diverse capabilities to pioneers is a great challenge and may, in fact, require supernatural efforts.

I saw the right stuff this week. I saw supernatural stuff this week. We had the wisdom of Curt; the vision of Josh; the capability of Pam; and the compassion of Dennis. I began the week falling at the steps of building 8 in Greenbelt — I ended the week falling to my knees giving thanks for the outcomes of the week and for the blessing of being able to see the right stuff in my leadership team. Thanks team, thanks for a great week.

Linda Y. Cureton, CIO, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center