The broad context - not just the operational details

Successful leaders are aware of the larger context in which they operate

Successful leaders lead with a focus on the future. To do this requires exploring the broader context in which their organization operates, as this enables them to identify opportunities for growth in the market.

For example, Steve Jobs took the brave step of reorganizing Apple's portfolio: rather than concentrating their efforts on many different products, Jobs decided that Apple should focus on just four computers – a desktop and a laptop, each for two markets: consumer and professional.

On the other hand, unadventurous leaders who remain rigid in their focus on exploiting existing products and technologies end up as victims of their own narrow vision. One of the best examples of this is the smartphone company BlackBerry.

By the mid-2000s, BlackBerry had become a favorite with corporate IT, but just five years later it lost 75 percent of its market value.

BlackBerry was slow to notice the burgeoning popularity of the iPhone and other touchscreen smartphones with which companies allowed their employees to connect to the corporate network. Also, the company overestimated the attraction of long battery life, failing to recognize that users were more than happy to sacrifice it for the use of a touchscreen.

BlackBerry is a classic example of what can happen to an organization with a rigid, narrow focus. Because the company trained its focus squarely on the existing, established technology rather than exploring for the next big thing, what was once an innovative company fell behind and couldn't keep up with the tech waves which followed.

To avoid being blindsided by the competition, leaders should devote much of their attention to exploring new opportunities for development.