Leadership lessons from Scott Kelly

Leadership Lessons From Scott Kelly

During his epic "Year in Space," American astronaut Scott Kelly captivated the world, while laying the groundwork for the future of space travel and exploration. Now, he will bring awe-inspiring stories and personal reflections on leadership, teamwork, and testing limits to the 2017 Wdesk user conference in Las Vegas, Sept. 19–21.

We recently sat down with Kelly to ask him about his time in space. Some of Kelly's top takeaways arose from dealing with the same kinds of stresses that businesspeople face every day.

Kelly launched on March 27, 2015, and lived aboard the International Space Station with 13 astronauts and cosmonauts representing seven different nations, during his yearlong mission. In order to achieve his mission's goals, Kelly frequently worked with these international partners, despite political differences in governments at home. Collaboration was a skill that proved to be invaluable while on his mission.

Kelly and the station crew conducted almost 400 investigations to advance NASA’s mission. Kelly's research primarily focused on how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation, and the stress of long-duration spaceflight. Kelly’s identical twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, participated in parallel twin studies on Earth, to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind down to the cellular level. Kelly's mission also included three spacewalks where he performed station upgrades, reconfigured an ammonia cooling system, and restored solar power-generating capability, as well as functionality to the station's Mobile Transporter system.

One of his top lessons was about prioritization and time management, skills critical whether you are an astronaut or an accountant. "When you are engaged in something as long as a yearlong mission, you can't be 100% focused all the time. Knowing when to focus and when to lighten up is crucial," said Kelly.

While preparation for the journey was intensive, said Kelly, core skills got him through unanticipated situations. Technical rigor, trustworthiness, and data accuracy were also critical to his success. "I've found that sound basic skills and generic training prepared me best for the unexpected," Kelly said. "And while it is important to have good data, how you interpret it and what you do with it is key."

Hear more of how Kelly dealt with the pressures of a year in space in September at the Wdesk user conference, The Exchange Community, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Sept. 19–21. Join hundreds of other businesspeople to receive valuable hands-on training, and benefit from industry thought leadership, while creating meaningful connections with professionals from across the country.

Register by Aug. 11 to take advantage of the budget-saver pricing.

Mitz Banarjee

About the author

Mitz Banarjee
Mitz Banarjee is the Head of Global Client Services at Workiva. Over the past 10 years, he has been heavily involved with technology companies of all sizes at an operational level driving customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.