One critical skill sadly lacking in many senior management teams and boardrooms is the capacity to see issues from the perspective of others.
That doesn’t equate to weak leadership where you bend and flex to suit what others think or want – or try to ride every wave of public sentiment.
What it means is that you have critical insight into what people are likely to think in the Court of Public Opinion so you better prepared to effectively communicate your position in a way that outsiders will be able to understand and, potentially support, albeit reluctantly.
If on the other hand, a company or Board chooses to believe it knows what is best and ploughs on in sheer arrogance, it is likely to struggle to communicate effectively.
That’s why every company needs those individuals on the inside who have the insight and courage to speak up and offer the perspective of the outside world. Often this is the role fulfilled by a respected public affairs manager.
The critical word here is respect. You don’t just march in at the get the right to profer opinions – you have to earn the right by understanding the business in which you are working and the dynamics of the issues in which you trade.
Even better, great companies regularly seek feedback whether that be via research or at the very least stepping outside the door occasionally and hearing direct from customers and stakeholders.
Closing your ears to the opinions of others is the first step on the road to failure.