At the time of writing the fate of Philae, the tiny probe sitting on the surface of a comet some 500 million miles from earth, is in the balance. With a ‘bounce’ on landing resulting in a less than ideal final resting place the fear is that the solar panels will not be able to operate as expected, giving the probe a short window in which to operate before it loses power.
Even should the worst case scenario come to pass, the Rosetta project is already being hailed as a triumph. Sending the probe on a ten year journey across billions of miles of space to land on a small comet is no mean feat and the team should be justly proud of their achievements. In any organisation success or failure ultimately rests on the shoulders of the leadership and of the team which they put together to carry out the organisational mission. Assembling a team which not only delivered a space craft to the launch but kept it on track throughout its ten year flight not only requires the leadership to model the way and to inspire a shared vision but also to enable the team to draw on its strengths and to encourage the heart to stand fast throughout those long years.
As a European Space Agency spokesperson said “the hardest thing about success is that it looks easy” but behind every success there is a leader who inspires the team to greatness.