A couple of years ago my Dad gave me a picture for my birthday that reads, "Lead With Vision." I have the plaque hanging in my office, opposite my desk so that I can look at it regularly. I have meditated on this phrase ever since and it has helped guide me many times as a leader, especially when it comes to problem solving.
Our jobs as leaders are typically as problem-solvers, and I have discovered that the best way to solve problems is to lead with vision rather than leading from reaction. Reactionary leadership waits until problems surface and then deals with them as they come. The problem with this type of leadership is that problems very rarely come one at a time or when it's convenient. Because of this leaders tend to burn-out, are regularly frustrated and want to quit. That was me, until I discovered a better way - Leading With Vision. Leading with vision is the ability to see what problems may be coming BEFORE they arrive and actively preparing yourself and your team.
Solomon, one of the wisest leaders who ever lived said, "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty." (Proverbs 22:3) Really, what Solomon is talking about is the gift of foresight. A leader must learn how to develop foresight and lead from this gift. A leader who does not develop foresight and who does not lead with vision, will not be in leadership much longer.
How to develop foresight:
1. Be an historian. Solomon said in Proverbs 10:14, "the wise store up knowledge." I like the word "store." It refers to excess. If a farmer is storing grain, it is because he has excess and is saving for the future. This is what Solomon is saying, he is saying that the wise gather excess knowledge, not just for what they may need right now but for what they may need in the future. A wise leader will do the same. Knowledge requires research. He will research what trends have surfaced in the past in similar circumstances and how others have responded both positively and negatively. There is nothing new under the sun, someone has been where you are right now, so it is wise to learn from their successes and failures. This is a great way to develop foresight.
2. Be an analyst. Without a doubt, you cannot reach your desired destination without being completely realistic with where you are currently. Therefore, the best way to develop accurate foresight is to develop regular habits of analyzing your current circumstances. I would recommend developing a system of reporting and accurate measurements for this purpose. I ask my staff to report weekly. I have been able to avert many crisis through this simple system because a regular reporting system has the ability to catch potential trends that may not be discovered any other way.
3. Be a prophet. Being a prophet doesn't always require a supernatural impartation from God. Sometimes, it requires studying the trends, analyzing the current circumstances and then taking the necessary time to think things through. As leaders, we are always busy, but business can be our greatest enemy. If you are too busy it is probably because you are a reactionary leader. Leading with vision requires you taking the time necessary to think into your future and your organizations future. Often we don't see what's coming simply because we didn't take the time to think right. This is why I so appreciated John Maxwell's book "Thinking for a Change." He teaches leaders the skill of thinking that will allow you to become an accurate prophet for your organization.
Question: Leaders, how are you developing your foresight skills?