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3 Ways to Grow Your Future-Focus

Question for Discussion – How do you as a leader grow your future-focus?

I was mesmerized by Steve Job’s biography. I was fascinated by his focus and passion. Mr. Job’s complex personality motivated him to achieve greatness. Steve Job’s creativity and genius for creating products that invent the future is so inspiring. Oh Wow!

My executive coaching clients and I frequently have conversations about creativity and innovation. Mr. Jobs was a leader who could be very difficult, but he inspired people and teams to achieve what was thought impossible. He could be abrasive at times in his relentless pursuit of perfection. He might have been perceived as lacking in emotional intelligence at times, but created a world class company of “A” players who changed the world.

I’ve learned over a long leadership coaching career that some leaders are much more gifted than others in their ability to demonstrate the competency of visioning the future. Executive coaching can help enlightened leaders grow their future focus.

There are three ways to expand your ability to become more future-oriented and hone your leadership effectiveness. In The Truth About Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Posner and Kouzes urge readers to spend time learning about the future through:

1. Insight

2. Outsight

3. Foresight

Insight: Explore Your Past

The exercise that follows will help you connect your past experiences and values with your current work. When you look backward, you can see farther ahead and imagine future possibilities.

Look for repeating themes in your life — the recurring messages that keep reminding you of what matters most. For younger leaders, there’s less past to recall; however, it’s still important to use the richness of your life experiences to uncover ideals.

Here are some questions to explore:

  • Identify the recurring theme in your life.
  • To which topic do you return again and again?
  • What story do you keep telling and retelling?

Search your past to find the theme. It will probably form the basis of your core values and higher purpose. When you know more about yourself, your dreams and your purpose, it will be easier to keep this information in mind each time you visualize the future.

Outsight: Imagine the Possibilities

To be a credible leader, you need to spend more time reading, thinking and talking about long-term possibilities. Develop the discipline to spend more time studying the future.

Establish a “future committee” dedicated to collecting ideas, articles, information and resources about trends affecting your organization. Track publications, both off- and online. Circulate these ideas to stimulate discussions and innovative thinking.

For example, The World Future Society recommends examination of six distinct business-trend categories:

1.  Demographics

2.  Economics

3.  Government

4.  Environment

5.  Society

6.  Technology

Improve your understanding of the world around you, not just in your industry. A game-changing product in an unrelated field could impact your customers and their need for your services. No one can afford to be short-term–oriented in a globally connected marketplace.

Foresight: Survival of the Optimists

“Optimists have a sixth sense for possibilities that realists can’t or won’t see.” ~ Warren Bennis, leadership professor

There is a dramatic difference between people who react to roadblocks with a sense of futility and pessimism and those who react with determination and optimism. Psychologist Martin Seligman has validated that the most successful business leaders are inspired by a sense of optimism.

Those who learn to be optimistic about life and work are far more likely to be successful than those who view a current event through the pessimist’s lens. Being optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring reality or the hardships required to get great results. Leaders can define a business reality, yet defy a negative verdict. By being optimists, leaders give people the hope, energy and strength needed to carry on.

The more you understand reality, the more prepared you are to endure hardships and adversity. Optimism, and a vision for what’s possible, supplies the energy to keep going, persist through challenges and come out on the other side.

One of the best ways to expand your potential leadership abilities is to work with an executive coach, who can help you see what you don’t yet see. An experienced coach will stimulate your thinking and conversations about what’s possible.

Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their high performance leadership development program. Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help managers manage for progress. You can become a leader who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams. He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders.  Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to http://www.workingresources.com, write to mbrusman@workingresources.com, or call 415-546-1252.

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