Everybody wants to discuss the strategic leader who is forward-thinking and influencing those around him or her. Of equal strategic importance, arguably more important at times is – who’s got your six?

A leader who is looking forward, taking on the headwinds while looking through the fog is key to success within a business. That goes without saying. Just as critical is what’s happening at 3 o’clock, 9 o’clock and who’s got your back (or your six).

In business, it is imperative to not only visualize the future but also to see significant events, threats, trends, and opportunities from an economic, industry, competitor or regulatory standpoint. These can come from the right, left or worse, from behind you where it is harder to see things coming…especially at the right speed. That’s why it’s important to proactively collaborate with those around you, which includes learning from your competitors and those in other industries.

You have an organization to move forward and need to nurture the growth of those people and that organization. Failure or unexpected challenges will catch you by surprise if you’re not always monitoring the organization and marketplace for potential opportunities, trends and threats.

In fact, it may be those leaders who position themselves in the back periodically to see the complete waters or entire landscape most clearly, thereby protecting the organization as well as positioning it for success. For better leaders, it’s also not about them personally. It’s about serving their organization and the people in it.

Think of situations you have seen in your own organizations or in history where the issue, obstacle or opportunity was not recognized in time. Consider situations where you’ve seen a competitor overcome a business by the one organization failing to see a threat because the organization was too comfortable with the status quo.

It’s crucial that leaders in the front take the backseat periodically and see the business from a different perspective. Why? Strong leaders listen to their organization to gain the vision of the collective group. These leaders do this to visualize perspectives far beyond what the leader could see just by standing up front alone listening only to his or her own thoughts. One leader does not have all the answers. The real failure is not asking for different perspectives and more importantly not listening and taking action.

Who is the best person to see everything around us? It is the one who sees the entire landscape with eyes pivoting all around, which are best used by seeing and listening to different perspectives. It is remembering the history behind us while paying attention to the future. It is considering and preparing for events and trends that may impact us including societal issues. What is the trend? If that trend heads in a different direction, how could that impact our organization? If a different trend goes on for a month, what does that mean for us? If the trend goes on for 12 months, how do we adapt and catch up or have we waited too long?

To summarize, it is key in leadership and organizations to constantly survey the entire landscape. Listen to and collaborate with the talent around you.

Do you want to learn to be that person who others want to follow? Contact me today and I’d be happy to help!

Written by David Gallagher