When astronauts and C' levels meet

The HR One team virtually sat down with Claudia Kessler, Initiator of the 1st female Astronaut at Astronautin. She told us more about the possible synergies between the corporate world and the space industry. The expert will participate to this year’s digital edition of Human Capital Europe and will virtually take the stage on November 26th at 11:00am, with a presentation entitled "Empowerment and inspiration".

What are the main characteristics of a good astronaut?

As an astronaut you will choose your own guiding star, work to reach it, and never lose sight of it. Of critical importance is also the ability to be positive, to be able to solve problems, to get along with others (think about the close quarters on the space station), and to be an ambassador for what’s important to the mission. Leadership, teamwork, the ability to both work on a team, lead a team, but also follow, be a follower on a team is essential for astronauts. Successful astronauts also need to be able to show cultural competency (recognizing that everyone’s contribution has value, no matter how unfamiliar), good self-care and team-care, and excellent communication skills in variety of situations.”Astronauts have to be great presenters, interesting to listen to, and able to speak in “plain language” (for people that didn’t get a degree in astrophysics).

2. Do those aspects apply to C levels? How?

Many of the characteristics do also apply to managers on the C-Level. Good leaders also should show the ability and vision to lead a team but also be part of their team at the same time. “I think leadership, teamwork, the ability to both work on a team, lead a team, but also follow, be a follower on a team. Communications certainly plays a role, so it’s some pretty common skills that I think translate into even other professions. They also have to be good communicators; be very clear in the way they communicate – like an astronaut communicating from space to ground!

How can the skills of an astronaut be implemented in the corporate world?

Many of the personal skills of astronauts can be implemented in the corporate world. At Astronautin GmbH we have selected and trained the first female German astronauts, the knowledge gained has been transformed into leadership trainings to the benefit of future managers! Astronauts must be visionary, imagine far away targets and then inspire, e.g. governments to finance awfully expensive space missions. This is certainly a strength that managers in front of their shareholder meetings can make good use of! Astronauts sometimes have to take bold decision, even about life and death, and then execute them and take the reasonability for it. This is certainly a skill that top-level managers would also benefit from.

When facing a crisis, how can C levels and HR directors react and be inspired from the space industry?

Astronauts and the space industry work in a sector with extremely high risk involved. For example when you send a spaceship to a different planet, the first risk is the launch, if that goes fine then the spacecraft will be on its way sometimes for several years and you have to rely on the fact that the electronics and software will be working well. There are a lot of dangers on the way, like meteor showers or extreme radiation. And you have no control! Astronauts and managers in the space field must live with a lot of uncertainty, that gives them strength in a crisis. They also must find quick and sometimes unconventional solution when a problem occurs. And they must stay calm in unforeseen situations. We uniquely combine classical training with elements from astronaut training and thus create an experience that the participants will remember for a long time. This makes the training a lot more effective and sustainable. In difficult situations in everyday life, the participants will always remember "the astronaut in you" and thus face the challenges stronger.

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