Leadership Distinction #6: Observer

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Why you must operate with a wide open intake valve re: the information in your experience.

The key differentiator in business has become: information. How much of it we have, how fast we get it, how we stay on top of it, and how we convert it into tangible value for the customers we choose to serve.

The key to your leadership success in this new information-centric world of commerce is your ability to observe. Your Observer-self uses your senses, your memory and your mental models – the point of view you have developed over time which lets some information in but keeps other bits out — to absorb the information that encircles you, and to interpret it – to process it, into meaning, belief, and ultimately, action.

Typically, the actions you and your team commit to take are nestled within carefully constructed plans. And we all like to be right about how we strategize and direct our companies into action. But we need to take great care not to put our Observer-self inadvertently on hold while we bear down and execute this fiscal year’s scheme.

If the leader narrows his or her input channel to only that which directly supports the plans that were put in place for this year then we don’t have plans any more; the plans have us. But just as leaders must keep their own input channels open to any and all observations, they must also guide all their staff to do the same.

Are you open to information that may be unwelcome when considered against the current operating plan? Do you demonstrate to your team that you are receptive to their observations and assessments, even the negative ones? Do you have the courage to shift gears, shift course, even shift the shared mind of the enterprise, when contrary information is at hand? 

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