Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is Futuristic Leadership?


There are three kinds of people:
those who make things happen,
those who watch things happen, and
those who wonder what happened.
— James Lovell (NASA astronaut)

You can’t manage change.
You can only be ahead of it.
— Peter Drucker (management guru)




ONLY THE FUTURE IS MANAGEABLE,
due to three inescapable reasons: 

  • You can’t manage the past. it’s over and done with. You can only change a prior decision by making a new decision sometime from now. 
  • You can’t manage the present. It is a mere nano­second of time as we constantly move from the past to the future.
  • You can only manage “what hasn’t happened yet” — the future. 

Leadership is about steering your organization into that ever-new future. Of course, otherwise-logical people protest that you logically can’t predict the future. They say the future can’t be known. That’s because the future defies purely logical thinking. Instead, it comes logically to the intuitive rather than the linear mind. You can “see” the future.


How Can You “See” the Future?

The “unknown” future can become “known” quite clearly by whole-brained futuristic leaders. They see its wholeness — the big picture — and how it fits together and how trends interact.

Futuristic leaders literally “see” the future and then “map” how to get there. They have a clear idea of what the future will be like. It’s not magic or crystal-ball gazing; they have a genuine feel for relevant trends and their outcome. True leaders are futurists.


Jigsaw Puzzle of the Future

Futurists constantly try to assemble a jigsaw puzzle of the future. You never have all the pieces, so the picture is never complete. In fact, each morning you’ll find some pieces (that you put in the jigsaw as recently as last night) are in the wrong place and you need to re-think things.

Futuristic leaders take minute-to-minute decisions based on that iterative jigsaw puzzle, which they keep at the forefront of their minds. Their never-completed jigsaw puzzle is a constantly changing focus board. No, that is not a contradiction. Christopher Columbus found the New World by using a very speculative map.

Their evolving jigsaw puzzle helps futuristic leaders navigate the uncharted territory of their organization’s future. Their jigsaw puzzle is their “map” to their “new world” — a future which they see most vividly, and which they set out to reach as expeditiously as possible.


Futuristic Leaders Stand in the Future

In the end, it’s not so much what will happen but what you do about it. As noted in an earlier post, futuristic leaders are doers; they achieve things. They are verbs.

Futuristic leaders don’t tip-toe into the future; they stride boldly forward, guided by trends. In fact, they always plant one foot in the future. They regularly stand in the future, take a good look around, scout the best options, and feel comfortable there. They virtually live there.


Futuristic Leaders Are Time Travelers

Futuristic leaders traverse a past-present-future time continuum, constantly shifting perspective along that continuum. They surf across the sweep of time, creating change and making strategic decisions about how best to navigate their organization’s optimal future.

So what’s going on in your organization’s future? 
  • Based on where you are now, what does your future look like?
  • What are you doing about it?
  • What will your organization do about it?
  • How would you like things to be different?
  • How can you make things different?
  • What is your “map” to your new world?

This blog will prompt many such questions.
Use it to take a realistic look at the various leadership
options for your organization. Make the best one happen,
and I guarantee you’ll leave a true legacy of futuristic leadership.

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