I’m almost glad that the month of July is ending. It’s been a rough month. I’ve had two pretty bad colds and gained five pounds. Yet, after a grueling week with the NASA CIOs, it’s clear that we’ve turned a corner as we prepare for our uphill trek.
Turning corners and climbing hills requires Breakthrough Leadership. It gives us the ability to have a positive expectation for what has yet to materialize; to recognize results when they become visible; and to be grateful to ourselves and to others for those results.
Expecting results requires positive thinking but Breakthrough Leadership needs that and more. It means clearing ourselves of the clutter and barriers that block the breakthroughs that we seek. Furthermore, if we make no plans to actually reach the top of the hill, we will be unprepared for the uphill trek. Similarly, our uphill climb can be made impossible if we are carrying excess baggage that needs to be shed. We must not only be prepared to reach the top but we must also expect to reach the top.
Acknowledging results requires the ability to recognize and measure outcomes. We must also look for the specific actions that produced those outcomes. Too often weak leaders behave like the rooster taking credit for the sunrise. Breakthrough Leaders need know what they did to produce the desired outcomes. If you successfully navigated through a risky situation, did you apply sound risk mitigation actions or did you just get lucky? Breakthrough Leadership does not rely on luck.
Finally, and most importantly, breakthrough leadership requires being grateful for results. This means not only being grateful to those we lead, but being grateful to ourselves as leaders. Breakthrough Leadership requires a lot of stamina. The leader that takes the time to focus inward with gratitude gets significant benefits. First, there is research to substantiate that it is beneficial for your health. Second, when the Breakthrough Leader expresses gratitude, it results in improvement. Finally, the gratitude you show yourself will be reflected back in others – and vice versa.
These are indeed interesting times for NASA IT leadership. There are tremendous uphill challenges in an environment of uncertainty and doubt. Yet, I know the NASA CIOs as a leadership team will reach the top of this hill. So now I’m grateful for July, for my runny nose, and for my low grade fever. I know why now. I saw it this month. I saw it this week. And I saw its reflection in my mirror this morning. It looked like Breakthrough Leadership.
Linda Cureton, CIO, NASA