Did you know that the ability to be future focused escalates with each leadership level?
FRONT-LINE SUPERVISORS are expected to anticipate events about three months ahead. Mid-level manager’s time line for more complex projects is perhaps a year or two. Those in the executive suites must focus on goals that are often 5+ years away.
While achieving great results with people to get the work done on time, on budget and on target is one way to build your credibility as a manager, it’s not enough for promotion to higher levels of responsibility and leadership. To take that next step, you must expand your ability to think and act strategically – to get out of business as usual thinking.
In other words, leaders must be future savvy. That’s the ability to be forward-looking, identifying, and most importantly understanding, the challenges facing the organization today as well as tomorrow
How Far Can You See?
Do you look beyond what’s in front of you – especially when daily tasks take up so much of your time and energy? How do you become future savvy and still handle day-to-day challenges? Here are five ways to develop this vital capability.
- Get out of your functional tunnel.
Stop seeing the world through your engineering glasses, or your marketing glasses, or your accounting glasses. You need to put on the company glasses. Familiarize yourself with all the various areas to understand how they affect one another. Have coffee or lunch with these managers to find out about issues facing their group, both short and long term. Think how can I use this information to create more value for my department and company?
- Increase your business savvy.
Browse news websites, join and participate in LinkedIn industry groups as well as read related publications to learn how other businesses operate and what strategies they use to increase their competitive advantage. What’s working – what’s not? What can you bring back and adapt?
- Know the sandbox your company plays in.
Research your major competitors. Create a detailed profile of each and share it with your team to spot potential opportunities and threats. Then bring this to your manager or senior leadership with specific ideas on how to capitalize on this information. How might this information affect your company’s health in the future? Will it be on life support or running a marathon?
- Establish a future committee.
It could be within your team or with other leaders. Collect ideas, articles, information and resources about trends affecting the company right now and in the future. The World Future Society recommends examination of six distinct business trends categories: Demographics, economics, government, environment, society, technology. Bring the committee or team together once a quarter to stimulate innovative and strategic thinking.
- Engage in what-if thinking.
Before moving forward to implement a new program, product or service, consider these questions:
- If we do this, how will our competitors respond?
- What will our customers think and do – applaud us or leave us?
- What impact will this have on our suppliers and distributors?
- Will this make our employees’ jobs easier or more difficult?
Innovative thinking is definitely beneficial but it also has to be tempered with reality testing. Be aware of the unintended consequences of your decisions.
My Motto Is:
If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; thats where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcias monthly Execubrief: Business Edge Smart Growth Strategies with a insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter those that do well and do good.
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