Chapter 4 – Project Team

4.2. Successful Team

As Laufer, Little, Russell and Maas (2018) explain in their book Becoming a Project Leader, “When it comes to projects, one thing is very clear: ‘right’ does not mean ‘stars.’ Indeed, one of the primary reasons for project ‘dream teams’ to fail is ‘signing too many all-stars.’” More important than an all-star is a project team member fully committed to the project goals.

Project All stars

Early morning view of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center building 29 on Monday, April 1, 2013.
Building 29 at Goddard Space Flight Center” by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Chuck Athas was one such team member. He worked for Frank Snow, the Ground System and Flight Operations Manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Officially listed as the project scheduler and planner, Chuck was eager to help Frank once the schedule was completed and needed less attention. “Anything that needed to be done, and he didn’t care what it was, he would attack with the same gusto and unflappable drive to succeed,” Frank said. “Whatever it took to get the job done, Chuck would do. Was there anything he couldn’t make happen? Probably something. But with Chuck on the team I felt like I could ask for Cleveland, and the next day he would show up with the deed” (Snow, 2003).

Chuck demonstrated a lack of ego that most all-stars don’t have. His can-do attitude is the antidote to the not-my-job thinking that can sometimes cause team cohesiveness and project completion to falter. His adherence to the project goals over his own goals made him an ideal team member (Laufer et al., 2018).