to undo mistakes is always harder than not to correct them originally, but we seldom have foresight. therefore, we have no choice but to try to correct our past mistakes. eleanor roosevelt
We continue our journey through SERVANT LEADERSHIP. This week we discuss the competency FORESIGHT.
Foresight is our seventh principle in the SERVant Leadership...ON Purpose! series.
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 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 Make Decisions Based on Pasts, Presents, and Futures.
The ideal is making decisions based on collective pasts, presents, and futures versus individual past, present, and future. The servant leader purposefully surrounds himself/herself with people who see things from different perspectives, and invites analysis of unintended consequences of decisions.
For example: starting a new venture. What if you ignored the collective pasts of other start-ups, other businesses? You might have a challenging present and possibly a questionable future.
Servant Leaders are Intuitive.
This opens the door to a “chicken and egg” argument. Does intuition come from foresight or vice versa? The reality is, both flow from/to each other. The more foresight leaders practice, the more intuitive their decision-making becomes. The more they rely on intuition, the more foresight they practice within the collective in order to validate decisions. Exclusively relying on intuition ignores validated feedback, i.e., “I feel like it’s safe to cross the street, so there’s no need to look.” Exclusively relying on foresight leads to paralysis, i.e., “I don’t see a car coming, but I am confident one will, so there’s no way I’m crossing this street.” In essence, intuition is enhanced and fine tuned through experience (good and bad) along with a healthy dose of consequential feedback.
Servant Leaders Identify Current Trends and Make Wise Decisions.
Due to technology and the 24/7 media cycle, trends may not have the sticking power they did years ago; so in addition to identifying, servant leaders must carefully assess to see if others are responding to whim or substance. Casual leaders rarely make wise decisions. Actually, they may not even make ethical decisions. So how can a servant leader "lean in" on the foresight competency?
There is a four step framework that could provide the structure to practice / demonstrate the foresight competency...
The Four Steps...The Foresight DO Loop.
As noted, we must do careful learning about the past and present. Learning is preparation for foresight. It is a core foresight practice skill. No one can practice good foresight without hindsight and present i.e. insight. Those who don’t start with research prior to producing new foresight are creating it based on old models and outdated information - a dangerous place to be. Those who do research in a vacuum - without inputs from others - are also in a dangerous place. So, that brings us to the DO LOOP - with learning, foresight, action, and feedback.
According to Foresight University, "To be adaptive, all living things cycle continuously through the entire DO LOOP: learning, foresight, action, and feedback. This is the only way useful foresight can emerge. If our foresight is not tied to action, we’re just telling stories, not practicing strategic foresight. The steps are part of the real-world foresight process, with the See step representing the foresight professional’s core skills, and the other three steps representing key supporting skills. Just as the See step can be split into three skills (probable, possible, and preferable futures), the Do step also depends on three key skills (execution, influence, and relating), with one additional skill each for the learning and reviewing steps."
The Four Steps of the Do loop can be represented as eight skills - split into Four Foresight Skills and Four Action Skills.
1. Learning - Investigative thinking
2. Anticipation – Probability/Convergent thinking
3. Innovation – Possibility/Divergent thinking
4. Strategy – Preference/Priority (re-Convergent) thinking
5. Execution – Production thinking
6. Influence – Market thinking
7. Relating – Team thinking
8. Reviewing - Adjustment thinking
Foresight is a team sport and if done well, can propel your team, division, entity or cause to a higher level! For MORE on FORESIGHT...SEE: Foresight2...ON Purpose!
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.
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About Mark Myette
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