In the not so distant past, discount airlines really were bargains. Today, while $99 fares are still advertised, actually being able to book a cheap deal is a lot less common. Rideshares to date have been both cheaper and often a better quality ride than taxis. Those days may also be passing as more pressures are applied from investors and regulators. Shale production was a terrific business when oil was 80 or 100 dollars a barrel. Today it is still a great business, but a lot more challenging when the oil sells at 60 dollars. The good times do not always last. Windows of opportunity are fleeting. Leaders need to be able to capitalize in the great times so that they are best positioned for the inevitable tougher times.

Leaders do this by being conscious of the environment in which they operate (including availability of talent, regulatory trends, changing needs of clients, technology) AND being crystal clear about the actions they can and are taking. Leaders can’t be successful with a blunted sense of the environment even if their operations are in good shape (think GM), nor can they be successful with a good sense of the environment but flat-footed in their response (think Tesla in tune with customer sentiment, but still contending with production issues). To really excel, leaders need to be aware in both dimensions, which is the essence of strategic leadership.

Good times don’t last forever, but good, strategic disciplines will see us through and allow us to find that next great thing.