In the book “The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell,” Secretary Powell recommends that in picking people we “Look for intelligence and judgment and, most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners.”
“Seeing around corners” was, coincidentally, the topic of an exceptional conversation I had with a group of CEOs yesterday. In that case it related not to hiring but to anticipating future macro economic realities.
Consider this: today, late October 2021, as things start to reopen, demand is up. People have money and they’re ready to come out and spend it. But supply isn’t keeping up. Companies across the board are struggling to find workers. China manufacturing is down and shipping is constrained. So prices are up. Inflation is up. But rather than overheating, economies are slowing. What’s happening? Is this stagflation 70’s style?
There are no easy answers. But we still need to ask the question, to anticipate, to look out into the unknown, using what information we have at our disposal. What will the world be like not just next month, but in six months, in a year? And what decisions should we make now to protect our business and perhaps get an edge on others?
The power is in asking the questions, in trying to see around corners, over the horizon. That’s hard for most of us. We prefer to work with what’s known.
But ask the questions we must. As CEOs, as captains of our ship, it’s our job to anticipate, evaluate, decide and act. It’s how fortunes are made and disasters are averted. Now is the time.