To astronaut Eileen Collins,consists of four values:
- Technical ability.
- An understanding of people.
- Openness to new ideas; no big ego allowed.
- Fairness, without even a perception of unfairness.
Collins has practiced and refined all of those values. An Air Force colonel, she has piloted two space shuttle missions and commanded one of them. This year, she is to command Atlantis, the first space shuttle mission since the shuttle disaster a year ago.
When she attended test pilot school in 1990, Collins found herself one of two women in a class of 25. Her seniority won her the rank of class leader, which tested her fourth leadership value: fairness.
“I knew several of the men had never worked with women,” she says. “I got through it by running those four points through my mind and by focusing on the mission.” Her upcoming assignment will test her first value: “In light of the Columbia accident,” she says, “we want to be as close to perfect as we can be.”
— Adapted from “Learning to Lead,” Tina Press, Connections.