Different people inspire me for different reasons.
The NASA Curiosity Rover team
For example, the NASA Curiosity Rover team demonstrated awesome levels of creative innovation in landing their rover on Mars, and equally awe inspiring technical and project management in making their system work. It’s one thing to have crazy, off-the-wall, might-just-work ideas; it is quite another to deliver them flawlessly. It was an astonishing achievement.
I would also single out Ernest Shackleton for his seemingly effortless leadership and management of people under what were, by any standards, absolutes of stress and peril. But even before then, his instinctive flair for leadership created happy, motivated crews who did not doubt his leadership for a second – many of them called him simply ‘the boss.’
A lot of people see teams as about competing and find that, in making people compete, they get the worst from them, rather than the best. So I’d also like to recognise the producers and contestants of the TV programme MasterChef. They are all commitment to developing excellence in individuals and to collaboration, while still competing ferociously.
Finally, I must mention my father, Gerald Clayton. Shortly after his death I wrote three blogs describing how his example inspired many of my skills and attitudes to project management – despite the fact he would probably not have been able to give a clear answer to what project management is. More than anything else, he inspired me with his common sense and his humanity.