I once flew in a very small plane from Nadi in Fiji to one of the outer islands. Nothing remarkable about that, except I’m really not a fan of very small planes.
It was a nail-biter of an experience, not helped by the fact that there was only the pilot and one other passenger on board. The mandatory safety run-through consisted of the pilot half-turning in his seat and mumbling over his shoulder, “just keep your seat belt done up, OK?” No wonder my usual flying mantra is if it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going!
Being so uncomfortably close to the pointy end of the plane, I was very aware of what the pilot was doing throughout the flight. He might have looked pretty laid back, but in fact he was busy tweaking dials, monitoring things and doing whatever else pilots do. Despite being tiny in a big, big sky, we got to our destination safe and sound.
This is a simple reminder about doing what it takes to stay on course. In today’s Reputation Economy, where what people hear and say about your business packs more punch than what you actually deliver, you need to be both active and aware. You must know what’s going on in and around your organisation, and be prepared to make adjustments.
Seemingly small issues can arise – like an unhappy customer or an unmet deadline - and in a busy world it’s tempting to downplay or even ignore them. That’s exactly when you need to adjust a dial here or tweak an instrument there. There’s no need to push the panic button but, like my laid-back pilot, simply do what needs to be done to address the matter and keep heading to where you want to go.
Too many times organisations get swept completely off course by an issue that wasn’t addressed in its early stages. By the time something is done, so is the damage. Even when the problem is fixed, the reputational fall-out lingers for a long time.
Get active and aware, and stay on top of reputational issues. You might even catch a tail-wind and sweep to your destination more easily than you’d hoped.