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Are You a Heads-Down Leader? Leadership Lessons from the Cockpit

Written by Randy Taussig on May 25, 2015

Implementers EOS

Are you a heads down leaderIn my last post, I referred to “heads-down management,” a term used to describe leaders who duck to avoid inevitable collisions with unpleasant circumstances. In other words, they avoid bad news.

Get your head up and look out the window!

These are the words my flight instructor used as I worked towards my instrument rating. There were times when I was so focused on the aircraft instruments that I forgot to look outside for obstacles like buildings, towers and other aircraft!

It’s easy to get fixated on one thing and forget about other important factors around you. This phenomenon exists inside the cockpit as well as within the boardroom. A heads-down leader can crash his or her team!

The key: scanning and assessing

Early on in flight training, new pilots learn to scan their primary instruments to stay on course and ahead of the plane. A rookie mistake is to get fixated on one instrument at the expense of others. For example, as you worry about your heading, you could easily start a slow descent that directs the aircraft straight into the ground!

The primary instrument panel for business is your company’s scorecard: the 5 to 15 activity-based metrics that come together to predict a future outcome. The same is true for flying—if we constantly scan the instruments that show our direction, speed, attitude, vertical speed and altitude, we can see trends that need small corrections to stay on course.

Your company’s instrument panel will uncover your issues

Use the scorecard to find the right numbers to monitor the health of your business, then act quickly as you see trends that could push you off course.

And heads up: you’ll want to see what’s in front of you BEFORE you collide head-on!

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