Leadership Moments from NASA, Dr. Dave Williams and Elizabeth Howell, PhD, ECW Press

Leadership Moments from NASA: Achieving the Impossible

Williams, Dr. Dave and Elizabeth Howell

  • The NASA way: lessons on leadership, teamwork, and corporate culture. How does NASA take on seemingly insurmountable challenges, recover from tragedy and continue to attract the best and brightest talent?

    Space exploration is as much a story of leadership and teamwork as it is a story of exploration and discovery. Leadership Moments from NASA delves into the culture of the famed organization and examines the leadership styles and insights of NASA senior executives spanning five decades of human spaceflight to share the lessons they learned from critical moments. How did they prioritize? How did they resolve differences? How did they decide what to do when no one had done it before? How did they build highly competent teams? How did they build organizational resilience? How did they fight complacency and rebuild a culture of safety and innovation?

    Through the use of NASA oral histories and interviews, this book shows how NASA recovered from tragedy and adversity, and how it developed a culture of competency that continues to attract the best and brightest.


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  • Dr. Dave Williams is an astronaut, aquanaut, pilot, ER doctor, scientist, CEO and bestselling author. The former Director of Space & Life Sciences at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, he has flown in space twice. He holds the Canadian spacewalking record and was the first Canadian to live on the world’s only undersea research habitat. He has received the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Langley Research Center Superior Accomplishment Award. Dr. Williams is the recipient of six honorary degrees, the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

    Elizabeth Howell, PhD, is a staff writer for Space.com. She has been a space journalist for 20 years and is one of the few Canadian journalists to focus exclusively on space. After working for The Globe and Mail, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, CTV Ottawa and the Ottawa Business Journal, Howell struck out as a full-time freelance space journalist in 2012. Before shifting to full-time work at Space.com in 2022, she was a frequent contributor to publications for clients such as CBC, SpaceQ, and Space.com. She has seen rocket launches in the United States and Kazakhstan, lived on a simulated Mars base, and interviewed many astronauts. She also teaches technical writing and does consulting work from Ottawa, ON.

  • Published: July 2021

    ISBN: 9781770416048

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 328


“This is a fascinating read, extracting leadership lessons from many people who were on the front lines at NASA. There is a lot of history here, and from that, one hopes, some guidance for the future.” — Mike Griffin, former NASA Administrator and Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering

“The authors’ engaging narratives spark our imagination and open up so many possibilities we can explore as leaders. It’s a splendid read besides being so insightful as we continue our leadership journey.” — Diane Craig, CEO of Corporate Class Inc.

“NASA teams motivated by extraordinary leaders have succeeded in overcoming unprecedented challenges to accomplish their mission. Leadership Moments captures the essence of these successful NASA leaders and tells their stories in an exciting, insightful and inspiring way.” — Joe Rothenberg, former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Flight

“An extraordinary collection of leadership insights. For anyone who wishes to be inspired and instructed by leaders who have balanced extreme risk with historical reward, this book is for you!” — Scott Haldane, retired President and CEO of YMCA Canada and Rideau Hall Foundation

Leadership Moments from NASA is a deep dive into NASA’s pioneering work in space exploration and leadership. The leadership strategies outlined apply to not only technology endeavors, but any situation. Whatever new frontier you are boldly headed into, this book is a resource for accomplishing the impossible.” — Loren Padelford, General Manager of Revenue and Vice President of Shopify Plus

“Spaceflight is a demanding and unforgiving environment and flying humans in space takes tremendous leadership skills to be successful. This book is a must-have resource and guide for anyone studying and wanting to improve their leadership skills, even in fields outside of human spaceflight.” — Bill Gerstenmaier, Vice President of Mission Assurance at SpaceX

“A very compelling profile of the critical role of leadership in achieving the impossible, one that promises to inspire generations of future leaders.” — Anne Snowdon, professor and Academic Chair (WIN) at the Odette School of Business; Scientific Director and CEO of SCAN Health

“Leaders in any business can learn from Dave Williams, a great and successful leader in a dangerous endeavor where incorrect decisions or ineffective inspiration can lead to death. It’s not systems that launch people into space; it’s great leaders and the people they inspire, who use systems wisely, that launch people into space. Learn from Dave Williams and lead your company to greatness!” — Captain Jim Wetherbee, U.S. Navy (Ret.), veteran space shuttle commander

“If you enjoy stories about bold vision and achieving great results in challenging environments, I highly recommend Leadership Moments from NASA. The authors do a masterful job of connecting Project Apollo’s dots with unique insights into the leaders and teamwork that created one of the most significant accomplishments of all time.” — Ian Graham, founder and team mentor at startup accelerator The Code Factory

“This book is a fresh new take on what happened behind the scenes and what lessons each of us can learn from this case study of managing an incredibly complex engineering enterprise of taking on space.” — Strategic Policy