Stay on target


Years ago, I took a leadership class that covered multiple successful leaders in business. What set them apart was their problem solving skills and being able to get the job done.

Most of the lesson was standard leadership and management philosophies that we have all heard or read about; however, the instructor piqued my interest when he started to discuss the leadership lessons in the movie, “Star Wars.”

The instructor highlighted a sequence near the end of the movie, right before the Death Star was destroyed. He said of all the lessons from Star Wars, this was the most important for any business or work center.

The pilot of one of the Y-wing Starfighters told his fellow pilots to, “stay on target” despite the three ships of enemy Tye Fighters closing in on them. As his wingmen began to panic with laser fire all around, he once again called over the radio, “stay on target!” He was forced to withdraw due to being overwhelmed by firepower and ended up being evaporated by Darth Vader, but his message to his team was spot on. Stay on target.

So, what does “stay on target” have to do with our jobs? Simple, stay focused on the task at hand. Be aware of the things happening around you and communicate if something is interfering with your ability to complete the task.

Seems like common sense, right?

In the maintenance group, we are bombarded with distractions on a daily basis. We typically go into a day with a prioritized list of scheduled tasks, a set of production goals to meet, and a set flying and maintenance plan.

Even with all these plans set in place, the moment a maintainer sets foot on the flightline or the shop floor, something or someone has altered the plan.

“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” said Prussian Field Marshal Von Moltke.

No matter how well you plan, external and internal forces alter your plans. How you deal with those forces separates success from mission delay or failure.

Despite all the chaos to a schedule, it is imperative that leaders “stay on target.” Keep the goal or task your top priority unless otherwise directed.

What about multi-tasking? Don’t you think multi-tasking would draw away from, staying on target?

Successful multi-taskers do not really multi-task at all. They are actually really good at staying focused at the job at hand. This allows focus and concentration that enables the worker to complete the task in a relatively minimal amount of time and quickly move to the next task. It gives the perception of multi-tasking, but in reality they just stay on one target at a time.

You may not be the guy who is going to rid the galaxy of the Death Star, but whatever is the top priority for you individually, or your shop, always remember to stay on target.