Government spy agencies and the military rely on intelligence that they gather from a distance (by monitoring telecommunications or via satellites). They also depend on intelligence they gather from people on the ground.
While leaders should look at the bigger picture, it is also important to get the reality of what is happening on the ground. A report that shows engagement improving may not be capturing what people really have on their minds. Employee retention figures may not capture the fact that great talent left or never hired on. Customers can leave without complaining. Suppliers can stop giving their best ideas and products in the face of unremitting price squeezes. The view from the top can be blurred by the distance from issues and obscured by the haze of communication along layers of middle management. Take time to get close to the issues and see what you see.