Apollo 13: Reflection Questions

3 March 2011

Photo found here.
1. What leadership skills (technical, conceptual, interpersonal) are used by the engineers when they have to "invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole?"

Based on Katz's "Three-Skills Approach, we see characteristics and behaviors of the engineers that are portrayed such as particular knowledge (technical) in making the square peg/round hold filter. A specific set of engineers is chosen because of their technical prowess. The conceptual skills shown were first the idea that a square peg could fit in a round hole. They gave abstract ideas meaning to make sense of the taks at hand. They though outside the box to find how this job could be accomplished. The human or interpersonal skills displayed in this scenario were clear because they were able to work together, help each other see the visions and overall support one another in order to achieve their goal. They communicated effectively the task at hand, how to think outside the box, and were able to influence their peers. There was one engineer in particular who helped guide the group with his skills.

2. Where would you place Gene Kranz on the Leadership Grid, and why?

Looking at Blake and Mouton's Leadership Grid, Gene Kranz falls into the team-management style leader. He is highly concerned with the people involved and highly concerned with getting results. He stimulated participation, showed determination, was honest and got issues in the open, made priorities clear, and ensured follow through.

3. As far as the team members aboard the Apollo 13, where would you place them in terms of follower development levels described in the Situational Approach to Leadership? Why?

I believe the team members were at the D4 level. Very skilled and highly committed. They were given control within their realm, though directed with the task at hand. They needed less social/emotional support because of their commitment and motivation to complete the task. When they receive too much direction, they feel their leader doesn't trust them.

4. Using leadership styles described in the Situational Approach to Leadership, which leadership style would you say Gene Kranz displayed? Why? Do you think it was appropriate? Why?

I believe Gene Kranz would be characterized as a mix between Delegating and Directing Leadership style. He was mildly directive and mildly supportive. He was focused on getting the job done and had high expectations of his team. He communicated with only one way to respond -- with a re-entry plan. He was a mixture of the other leadership styles when he was asking them to come up with a plan, but the final call was still his. I think this was appropriate because he had a large team to lead and needed to keep them focused on saving the lives of three of them. The buck stopped with him no matter how many different opinions there were. This all points to a more delegation style of leadership.

5. If you were to do a leadership assessment of the Apollo 13 situation in order to use the Contingency Approach, where would you place leader-member relations? Where would you place task structure? Where would you place position power? Based on the assessment, do you think the appropriate leaders were in the appropriate positions?

Using Contingency Approach, I believe leader-member relations were overall good. They seemed to trust Kranz and get along with him. They respected his position.

I would place task structure high. The requirements to complete the task successfully were clear and had few options/solutions to do it. It was a very precise task.

Position Power of the leader in this movie was very strong. It was clear Kranz was in charge and held the power to make important decisions.

Based on this, I do believe the appropriate leaders were in place. Kranz was able to execute this mission because all participants/followers acted appropriately in their given positions of power and Kranz was capable of bringing it all together.