The Value of Vision, Part 2: Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart

The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders. 

For over thirty years authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (The Leadership Challenge) been asking people what they most look for and admire in a leader, someone they would willingly follow.

Their research has consistently found that the quality of being forward-looking is second only to honesty as the most admired leader characteristic. 

Unfortunately, it’s something that too few fully appreciate, and too many devote almost no time to developing.

And how does a new leader develop the capacity to be forward-looking?

The answer is deceptively simple: spend more time in the future. You have to carve out more time each week to peer into the distance and imagining what might be out there. You have to take the time today in order to have the time tomorrow.

Because focusing on the future is the differentiating leadership quality, you need to spend more time reading about, thinking about, and talking about the long-term view. Here are a few ideas that Kouzes and Posner recommend:

  • Set up a futures research committee to study potential changes and developments in areas affecting your  organization.
  • Put together a team to continually track fifty or sixty publications that represent new thoughts on trends in your domain.  Ask them to prepare abstracts of articles they think have relevance. A smaller team can then pull the abstracts into reports for use in planning and decision-making.
  • Have all the people in your organization regularly clip articles from newspapers, magazines, and Web sites.

Circulate the ideas generated and discuss the impact of trends on your products, services, technologies, and constituents. Use these discussions to help you and your organization develop the ability to think long-term.

It’s your job as a leader to lift people’s sights and lift people’s spirits.

You must remind others that there is a larger purpose to all this doing. You and they are working hard in order to build something different, to make something new, to create a better future.

Invest the time today in tomorrow’s future.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Kouzes and Barry Posner

James Kouzes and Barry Posner

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner are the coauthors of the bestselling and award-winning The Leadership Challenge, and over a dozen other books on leadership including The Truth About Leadership, Making Extraordinary Things Happen in Asia, A Leader’s Legacy, Credibility, and Encouraging the Heart. Jim is the Dean’s Executive Fellow of Leadership and Barry is the Accolti Endowed Professor of Leadership at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University. Follow them on Twitter @Jim_Kouzes and @TLCTalk and find them on Facebook Jim Kouzes and TLC Page.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 

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