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The High-Potential Leader by Geri Willigan, Ram Charan

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5Get to Know Customers, Competitors, and the Macro Environment

You may be so busy dealing with the immediacies of your job and the many demands on your time and attention from others in the company that you lose sight of the world beyond your four walls. Increase the return on your time and use the freed up mental space to expand your horizon. Learning about customers and competitors may already be part of your job, but every leader benefits from deepening that knowledge. A more common shortfall is in understanding the macro environment. This is the realm of geopolitics, the global financial system, social and demographic trends, and government regulation, each of which can challenge corporate leaders and can combine with deadly force.

Sorting through the onslaught of daily headlines and research reports and sifting out the nuggets is an acquired skill that is evermore important for business leaders. As a hipo, you may have a natural bent to search for new ideas and information. If you maintain an external orientation and turn your casual scanning into a discipline, you’ll be better prepared to see where the opportunities lie and what might upend your business.

Observe the End-to-End Consumer Experience

In the Internet age, power has passed to the consumer. Today some 33 percent of households are on Amazon Prime, and most people click on Amazon first before shopping elsewhere. When U.S. consumers are buying a car, about half of them click on AutoNation first. People use search ...

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