A Leaders role is to balance a focus on the now and be engaged in the next. It is to give enough thought, time, resource and energy to what must happen as well as what might happen. You need to focus on the future and be creative enough to imagine it; disciplined enough to work for it, and excited enough to engage others in it, that is the job of leadership.
Abraham Lincoln is attributed as saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
Leaders imagine possibility. Leaders consider options. Leaders create futures. We all must lead into our future.
The future you will consist of the following three parts:
- A Prize – The outcome you’d like to have.
- A Price – What it will cost you to get there.
- A Path – The way this future will unfold.
In some ways it’s the classic story arc made famous by Disney but laid out by Joseph Campbell – We have a desirable future (Prize), a journey to go on we are not equipped for (Price) and an unfolding journey to see it become a reality (Path) – Leadership is, in so many ways, this story repeated over and over again at different times and with different people, in different places. Leaders don’t just dream of a better future, leaders lead INTO that future with all of the resources in their sphere of influence.
Creating the future is different to predicting the future. Creating the future requires some form of prediction but creation needs to be more proactive, more organic, more costly and even more personal. Prediction can often be reactive and in response to what is already happening around you. And, you can often end up more famous for what you got wrong than what you got right when you lean on predictions.
We are well into an age of convergence. The future of leadership looks more like a blend of the technological, and the human. Previously they were separate but they are increasingly integrated into our lives and it’s hard to see where one stops and the other starts; making that distinction is less important now. Knowing which focus to deploy, that’s the key to leadership effectiveness. In his book Metaskills, Marty Neumeier argues that as the world gets increasingly robotic we need to master five very human skills to ensure we stay ahead of the robot curve. Five very human, very learnable, very important skills.
Mastering these five skills will bring you ‘greater creativity, higher purpose, and a deeper sense of fulfilment.’ It will also teach you ‘what it means to be humans (leaders) in the 21st Century.’ Essential reading it seems.
To lead into the future means to learn the leadership skills required for a world that doesn’t exist yet but is being created as we speak. Three key skills would be:
- Direction – is when your path is clear and the price is acceptable
- Motivation – is when the prize is enough and the price is acceptable
- Action – is when the prize is enough and the path is clear
It’s not complete, but it’s enough to make a decisive leadership step forward.
See you next time on the leaders pipeline. Leaders. Leadership. Everywhere.