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Focus on the Future - How to Be More Forward-Looking

Question for Discussion – How important is focusing on the future for leaders?


My wife bought me a copy of Steve Job’s autobiography which I found fascinating on so many levels. Steve Job’s intensity, focus, passion and genius for creating products that invent the future is so inspiring. Wow!

My executive coaching clients frequently have conversations about how marketing with a focus on the future is so much easier when your business is aligned with your values and purpose. I’ve learned over a long coaching career that some of my leaders are much more gifted than others with the competency of visioning the future. Executive coaching can help enlightened leaders improve their capability to develop a compelling strategy.

Focus on the Future

What single quality differentiates high-potential leaders from ordinary contributors in an organization?

It’s their ability to be forward-looking and focus on the future.
To become a better leader or distinguish yourself as someone primed for promotion, you’ll want to develop your capacity to envision the future.

Focusing on the future sets leaders apart. The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is a defining competency — perhaps the most important one, next to honesty.

In The Leadership Code (Harvard School of Business Press, 2009), Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood and Kate Sweetman reviewed leadership theory and distilled leadership competencies into five overarching roles:

  1. Strategist — Leaders shape the future.
  2. Executor — Leaders make things happen.
  3. Talent manager — Leaders engage today’s talent.
  4. Human capital developer — Leaders build the next generation.
  5. Personal proficiency — Leaders invest in their own development.

While leadership has evolved over time, these five areas of focus have remained constant as key functions of effective leaders, across all industries. Leaders must be able to answer the question, “Where are we going?”

We look to our leaders to envision a future, figure out where the organization must go to succeed, evaluate ideas for pragmatism and determine if they fit the company’s core mission. Leaders focus on how people, money, resources and organizational capabilities will work together to move from the present to a desired future.

To become a strategist, your thinking must be future-oriented. You’ll need to become intensely curious about trends, both inside and outside your organization’s field. You’ll need a systematic way of staying informed and tracking changes. This requires you to engage everyone in the organization and collect new ideas from various sources. Invite everyone to participate in creating a better future.

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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