Can you be too competitive? Astronaut’s Guide #4

“Astronauts are, without exception, extremely competitive. How do you take a group of hyper-competitive people and get them to hyper-cooperate, to the point where they seek opportunities to help others shine?”

This is one of the key questions in Chris Hadfield’s book (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth), and one which comes up for many business leaders too.

He talks about instilling and reinforcing “expeditionary behaviour” (a phrase we love! and use on our positive leadership courses). Essentially, it is the ability to work in a team productively and cheerfully in tough conditions.

Here are some of his lessons from surviving in space and his survival training on land.  All ideas you can promote with your own teams without going to the North Pole.

  • Think of success as a team sport.
  • Good leadership means leading the way, not hectoring other people to do things your way.
  • Groupthink is a good thing when it comes to risks. If you are only thinking about yourself, you can’t see the whole picture.
  • The key question to ask is, “How can I help us get where we need to go?” (It’s about supporting the team, not looking out for yourself).
  • You don’t need to be a superhero. Empathy and a sense of humour are often more important. Take opportunities to lighten the mood.
  • When the going gets tough you can choose to wallow in misery or you can focus on what’s best for the group (hint: it’s never misery).
  • Discourage whining and moaning. It is the antithesis of expeditionary behaviour and doesn’t help get the job done.

Here’s Our Pithy Quote from the Book #4

“Only the crew’s own appreciation of the value of expeditionary behaviour made it possible for us to become a complaint-free group. Everyone promotes team spirit”.

Chris’ style of personal leadership and his leadership of others is an excellent example of the behaviours and positive practices we’re coaching on our Positive Leadership. Peak Performance Programmes. Hard evidence shows that using positive leadership practices to lead yourself and others delivers higher sales, more internal engagement and better productivity. If you would be interested in how it can help you meet your own goals, please do get in touch.

Buy Chris Hadfield’s book on Amazon here.

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