Embarking on flight training comes with a nifty habit that instructors eagerly instill from the get-go: the art of instrument scanning.
Whispers from your instructor echo in your mind, urging you with the mantra, “Scan, scan, scan!”
Keep a Good Scan of Your Instruments, Never Be Stumped
A vital cautionary command follows closely, “Don’t stare!” You learn to effortlessly let your gaze flit from one instrument to another. The altitude indicator, heading indicator, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator each hold a crucial piece of the intricate airborne puzzle.
There’s a natural instinct to fixate on a single instrument, yet doing so can lead pilots astray. Gazing at the altimeter may cause heading drift, while focusing solely on heading may compromise airspeed control.
Pilots are trained to maintain a cohesive scan of all instruments, constantly cross-checking the streams of data. By doing so, they can swiftly identify any inconsistencies, such as an altitude indicating descent while the altimeter shows level flight.
With instrument scanning, pilots can promptly isolate the problematic instrument or data stream, and if necessary devise alternative plans to obtain the necessary information and ensure the aircraft’s safe and steady flight.
Just as Pilots Use Instruments in the Air, Leaders Scan Their Realm
The concept of an instrument scan mindset serves as a potent analogy for effectively managing critical information within the realm of business. Much like pilots, leaders must engage in ongoing monitoring, analysis, and cross-referencing of pertinent data. To achieve success, it’s imperative to proactively pay attention to emerging trends, maintain a steadfast focus on the larger picture, and cultivate a curious mindset.
It is of utmost importance to avoid fixating on a single metric to the detriment of considering other vital factors that could impact the business. Leaders should routinely revisit their goals, objectives, and key performance indicators (KPIs,) and conduct a thorough analysis of data to discern trends, patterns, and areas of concern, all while embracing a proactive and inquisitive approach. They should be unafraid to pose challenging questions, challenge assumptions, and maintain a comprehensive situational awareness.
Sadly, in the world of business, this mindset is frequently overlooked. Reports are often generated, and actions taken without the rigorous cross-checking or sense-checking of the underlying data. Stakeholders become overly fixated on a single “instrument,” and in doing so, they fail to maintain a broader scan of the business landscape.
It is crucial to refrain from accepting data at face value, as maintaining a vigilant scan and a more extensive situational awareness is of paramount importance. Embrace the wisdom of instrument scanning to chart a course toward success, steering clear of perilous assumptions and acquiring a comprehensive understanding of your business’s performance.
Leaders Must Employ Their ‘Instruments’ for Guided Insight
Within the symbolic framework of leadership, as in flying an aircraft, the concept of instrument scanning encompasses the continual practice of gathering and interpreting information. This process is vital for making well-informed decisions, safeguarding the welfare of the organization or team, and steering a precise path toward the envisioned goals.
Much like how pilots depend on their instruments to navigate their flights safely and on the correct course, effective leadership through instrument scanning is essential. It serves as the linchpin for steering an organization or team toward triumph and preserving their vitality and stability.