Sometimes the gulf that separates the world’s brightest people from its least enlightened can be shrunk simply by living a little longer; by seeing a little further down the road.

Earlier this year, for instance, not one of America’s well paid political pundits anticipated what most Americans know today, that Donald Trump is running for President on the Republican ticket.

Despite holding no prior political office and considered (by those same pundits) an extreme long shot in winning his party’s nomination, let alone the presidency, “The Donald” has dominated the news. Americans don’t know this because they suddenly became clairvoyant. They just lived to see an event come to pass; something that wasn’t easily predicted months ago with the facts at hand.

Whether you support or reject Trump as a candidate, it’s clear that his actions have had a significant impact. As Dan Balz, writer for The Washington Post said in a recent article, the “other candidates would prefer to ignore him [Trump] though potentially at their and their party’s peril.”

This is indeed a defining moment and the outcome of which remains to be seen. Now, six weeks into his media blitz, candidates from the right and the left are scrambling to adjust their long game; however, Trump’s recent rants toward Senator John McCain may be the final straw. In any case, polls show that Trump’s extreme “attacks” on issues and people are becoming a threat to their own presidential ambitions. The inability of others to truly differentiate their own leadership and refocus the electorate represents a major opportunity missed.

Cultivating a “crystal ball” corporate culture – anticipating matters!

There’s a corporate lesson to be learned from all this Donald distraction. True greatness, especially in terms of C-suite leadership (and what’s more C-suite than the chief executive of the United States) comes when leaders can anticipate an event, predict a reaction, leverage a corporate shift, or a burgeoning public mindset before most of the facts are in.

To put it another way, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said it like this: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Again, we’re talking about the same abilities. Soft skills, call it human intuition, anticipation or a gut feeling, that allow truly exceptional leaders to transcend existing data and opinion polls and extrapolate a new state of being. The pundit who could have predicted the reactions to Donald Trump’s recent political foray would have been a prized asset to any presidential candidate’s team. The inability of other candidates to anticipate reactions, to seize the moment and gain their own momentum reveals so much.

Unfortunately, this is also true in the business world today as these skills aren’t being fully cultivated. A recent article in Forbes by Russell Raath, a senior engagement leader at Kotter International, a specialized management consulting firm, bears this out. According to Raath several key C-suite skills are lacking.

He states that the issue today is less about functional knowledge and more about a leader’s ability to put that knowledge to good use, to act and react fast to changes in the organization and industry. Effective leaders, those who can lead their teams through change, know how to get stuff done inside their organizations and get it done fast. Doing so creates a change advantage.

Leaders who understand these complexities are able to make smart, potentially ground-breaking decisions. It’s as if they can see ahead of the curve.

So, what’s missing? How about:

  • The ability to build trust and motivation
  • The lack of collaboration and coordination
  • The absence of change leadership skills
  • Too much talk… not enough action
  • The shortage of focus and agility
  • Broad strategy… poor execution

Check your C-suite risk profile

The good news is that seeing ahead of the curve doesn’t require a crystal ball. But it does require a C-suite checklist; a diagnostic, if you will, that assesses how well your company is doing in fostering an environment where “ anticipating potential outcomes ” are capabilities, which can be cultivated organically. Ask yourself:

  • How can you develop individual leaders and cross-functional teams who are equipped to lead and excel in a highly uncertain, competitive, accelerating global economy?
  • Do you have leadership agreement, collaboration and coordination across you team?
  • What process do you have in place to capitalize on the advantages of superior leadership and high performance teamwork?

In his latest book “The Attacker’s Advantage,” Ram Charan states that, “taking control of uncertainty is the fundamental leadership challenge of our time.”

Thus, as an extension to that logic, do you believe your leadership team embraces change and seeks to exploit the opportunities it presents? Or does it resist change due to fear, anxiety or avoidance in the hopes that it may pass on their watch?

Organizations that recognize the advantage of leveraging change develop high performance leaders and executive teams that will secure a compound advantage, overtaking the non-performance or delayed reaction of others. This is a campaign tactic that I’m sure resonates with Donald Trump.

In assessing your leadership needs, do you believe your team can benefit from developing capabilities in the areas of collaboration, anticipation and coordination? At Advantaged Leadership, we provide executive coaching and team development, which enables your organization to seize the advantage and excel.