As a Leader, Are You Prepared For the Future?

Screen Shot 6Did 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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Smart Moves Tip

When asked, “How come you are always where the puck is?” Wayne Gretsky, the well-known hockey player, answered: “I’m not where the puck is, but where the puck is going to be.” No one and no business, however successful you are today, can afford to be short-term-oriented in a global, changing marketplace. Where is the future going to be for you and your business? Are you ready for it? You must be future savvy!

My Motto Is:
“If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s 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.

What’s Your Success Score?
Are you starting a business; growing a business; selling a business or re-charging a business? Do you have the right stuff to build a highly organized, innovative, productive, and profitable enterprise? How well does your business stack up with other companies? The ManageHub Success Score will tell you!



Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. I agree the ability to think further ahead increases as you move up in a company is a result of being, but I think that is, in part, due to the fact that you are exposed to a greater expanse of information and, consequently, is not an indication of your latent ability. I also believe that one must ‘perform’ at the next level to have a greater chance for promotion, so the development of your future vision capabilities is critical. Using the advice in this article will get you started on this journey.