We continue our journey through the seven pillars of servant Leadership. This week we discuss the fifth pillar - defined by Robert Greenleaf - FORESIGHT and covered in detail by Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership: Practicing the Wisdom of Leading by Serving - by James W. Sipe and Don M. Frick. Ironically, Foresight is also the seventh principle in the SERVant Leadership...ON Purpose! series. SEE FORESIGHT...ON PRURPOSE!
The highlights from the FORESIGHT...ON PRURPOSE! blog that will lend itself to this blog:
- Defined in the servant leadership context: strategic intuition in thinking and behaviors. It is intuition based in the past, present, and future decision-making process. Robert Greenleaf observed "Foresight is seen as a holy rational process, the product of a constantly running internal computer that deals with intersecting series in random inputs and is vastly more complicated than anything technology has yet produced. Foresight means regarding the events of the instant moment and constantly comparing them with a series of projections made in the past and at the same time projecting future events – with diminishing certainty has projected time runs out into the indefinite future."
- According to Larry Spears - president and CEO of The Larry C. Spears Center for ServantLeadership - "One knows foresight when one experiences it. Foresight is a characteristic that enables the servant leader to understand the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a decision for the future. It is also deeply rooted within the intuitive mind."
- Servant Leaders are Intuitive.
- Servant Leaders Identify Current Trends and Make Wise Decisions.
- Servant Leaders Practice The Foresight DO Loop: 1. Learn; 2. See; 3. Do; and 4. Review.
Foresight as One of Pillars...
Sipe and Frick identified 3 additional competencies that make foresight robust: vision, creativity, and courage.
Some of the highlights:
"A Servant-Leader sees where to go (through foresight), paints a compelling picture of the destination (with a vision), and invites others to “come, follow me.” Scores of books have been written about the differences between vision statements, mission statements, goals, strategic objectives, enabling objectives, and performance objectives."
On September 12, 1962, one of the most memorable VISIONING speeches was delivered by Robert F. Kennedy...speaking at Rice University...
"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too...Well, space is there, and we're going to climb it, and the moon and the planets are there, and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God's blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked." (Speech)
This visioning speech set the focus of NASA and thousands of engineers, mathematicians, politicians, scientists, suppliers and private citizens. It also set the tone and ALL the world's fascination with the quest to reach the moon by the end of the decade...Kennedy's words were prophetic...and despite the challenges...NASA achieved Kennedy's goal by landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.
What a Great Vision Does...
• Invites us into a great and worthy shared enterprise;
• Paints a picture of a brighter future that connects to our deepest identity;
• Excites with unlimited possibilities: and,
• Lures us forward to action with its compelling power.
Foresight is only possible if an institution and the people within it have the vision to know who they are and where they want to go. So, when you sit down with colleagues to create, express or revise a vision, understand this is not an exercise in semantics - it's the words of your very identity.
In a nutshell, VISION is a statement - even a breathtaking statement - about the difference the organization will make in the world and in peoples’ lives.
Vision should answer the following questions:
• “Who are we?”
• “Whom do we serve?”
• “How will we serve them?”
Answering these questions takes time. Once the vision is in place, a servant leader will refer to it frequently, using it to paint a compelling picture of what it means to work towards these ends. A servant leader will constantly reinterpret the vision and not be afraid of refining it, afterall, this is all part of being a “visionary leader.”
• Am I open to influencing / revisiting our vision statement?
• How would I act differently if I lived by a personal vision statement I believe in?
• Instead of beginning with words, can I begin to formulate a personal vision by noticing the passions that consistently lure and excite me?
• Who is a trusted friend who will help me be accountable to my personal vision?
Sipe and Frick contend, "To compete in a global economy with rapid-fire innovations and razor-sharp competition, an organization must not only permit but nurture creativity." Today, this is expressed in popular sayings like “Think out of the box,” “Get outside your own silo,” and “Look for the third right answer.”
This approach to creativity is adapted from the teachings of various creativity mentors:
• State the problem to point everyone in the same direction;
• Suggest possible solutions;
• Suspend judgment;
• Go for quantity of ideas;
• Change perspective;
• Play with metaphors. (i.e. What is this problem like?)
• Evaluate and choose possible solutions;
• Test the creative solution.
Tips for Inspiring and Managing Creativity
• Use creativity in approaching challenges and problems and welcome it in others.
• Set general boundaries for each step of the process. (e.g. “Okay folks, we’re going to brainstorm for fifteen minutes. We can listen to a few crazy ideas later, but let’s try to get most of them on the table right now.” )
• Identify and reduce barriers to creativity and the creative process.
• Recognize / expect tension between creativity and control - they tend to be incompatible.
Greenleaf said that “conceptual skills allow us to see the big picture, the where we want to go. Foresight allows us to map out how we are going to get there by anticipating the various consequences of our actions and then picking the actions that will serve us best.”
Bottom line: if creativity is not rewarded or practiced by a leader, it will not get done.
• Do I see myself as creative even though I am not an artist, musician, or poet?
• What analogy can be applied to my most vexing challenge?
• How can I change the negative metaphor I associate with to a positive one?
• Am I too quick to judge “crazy ideas” in myself and others without looking at their creative possibilities?
• What are ways I can be creative?
Exercising courage, being decisive, or demonstrating productive problem-solving abilities rests upon a solid foundation of insight and intuition, combined with a practical set of problem-solving skills. Servant leaders will be faced with opportunities to "do the right thing" even though it won't be popular. As Bill Treasurer - Leadership consultant and the “chief encouragement officer” at Giant Leap Consulting, and the author of Courageous Leadership Profile, would say..."Be Courageous!"
• A servant leader who has gone through the process of creatively accessing foresight and developing a vision is less likely to jump on the first idea offered. He or she has a picture of the larger forces that must be considered and waits for the second, third, and fourth idea, but then is free to act with more solid assurance that all the bases have been covered.
• A leader with foresight is more likely to heed the Native American guideline - "to consider the impact of every decision seven generations into the future." With those stakes, an action needs to be decisive.
• By working creatively and collaboratively, a servant leader guards against ego. Critics and colleagues act as a check on one’s ego. There's less likelihood that a decisive action will originate in ego, or be seen that way by others.
• A community of servants is collectively smarter than any one person.
• What makes me act boldly even when I am not sure of the decision?
• What keeps me from acting boldly, even after I am as sure as I can be?
• How can I be bold and humble, assertive and collaborative, reflective and proactive?
First consider all aspects of the situation - history, current data, and probable impact on the future - and you too can move ahead with no regrets, regardless of consequences. Foresight NOT acted upon is a wasted opportunity! In truth, anything that requires the doing of something is an opportunity to put foresight, vision, creativity and courage into action - they become more than tools - they become integrated as part of the deep identity of a servant leader. A servant leader is creative and visionary, and is one who sees the world every day with heightened awareness and foresight. A great way to live and work!
My best to your quest!
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted relationships where individuals, teams and leaders NAME, CLAIM and AIM their gifts to achieve optimum performance.
Interested to Learn About Yourself or Your Team? Mark is a Certified CliftonStrengths Coach, Facet5 and TotalSDI Facilitator and happy to discuss your situation.
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About Mark Myette
I believe each of us is a gift. I create trusted
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