Find Business Issues Before They Find You: Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit

Leadership lessons from the cockpit #3It’s amazing how most business issues are predictable. They rarely surprise us, yet so often leaders are unprepared to handle them as they surface. Why is that?

We Need to Become Better Predictors

Usually, we tend to overlook important business indicators. In other words, we all need to do a better job of keeping our eye on the ball. Part of the problem is what I call “heads down management.” This occurs when business leaders duck to avoid an inevitable collision with unpleasant circumstances.

I recommend a simple five-step approach you can take to better anticipate an impending issue:

  1. Identify key leading indicators for your business (see example below).
  2. Determine the target and clarify who on your leadership team is accountable.
  3. Meet often to review trends and identify issues.
  4. Discuss and solve issues quickly.
  5. Complete steps 3 and 4 weekly.

Measure Early, Measure Often

Consider this: warm leads are a key indicator of future sales. If your goal is to obtain 25 warm leads per week but you’re currently trending below that, there is a good chance your future sales will fall below budget. The key is to identify the trend early on and take action BEFORE it turns into a BIG problem.

If you’re clear about what you’re measuring and make sure to measure regularly, your team will do more than improve at predicting your business’s future — they will create a better future for your organization.

Pre-Flight Discipline

Before every takeoff, pilots do extensive planning to anticipate the many obstacles, barriers and challenges that could potentially affect the outcome of the flight. Things like weather, fuel requirements, traffic delays and functionality of equipment are all “leading indicators” that must be addressed before we launch into the air. It’s a big reason for the 99.9 percent success rate in commercial aviation.

What key indicators keep your business on track? Figure it out and you’ll be surprised how your business trajectory bursts through the clouds!

Next Steps


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