Foresight: The Leaders Lead
Goals – heading towards the future
The first essential characteristic of leaders is that they are going somewhere, aiming at goal or objectives that lie in the future. Leaders are always on the way, they are heading towards objectives, aiming at targets and reaching out for things that are ahead of them
Foresight – dealing with the future
- Being future oriented is a necessary requirement for leadership, but it is not a sufficient requirement
- What distinguishes the leaders from others is that they not only have an interest in the future but they also have the capacity to deal with the future
- What then is involved in this ability or capacity to deal effectively with the future that we call foresight?
- Firstly, foresight requires vision, in the sense of imaginitive insight or "seeing" with the inner eye. Vision is what enables leaders to "see" the possible future further and more clearly than others, to "see" better than others at identifying opportunities and possibilities, and knowing how to respond to forthcoming events or likely situations
- Secondly, foresight consists of a sense for the unknown, an instinctive "feel" or anticipatory prescience for what is not here yet, an intuitive kind of knowledge or awareness of things prior to their existence or occurrence. It is therefore largely a spiritual capacity and one that, from a Christian perspective, carries with it the potential for, or the openness to inspiration or revelation
- The features of foresight – this is important so that we can recognize how foresight works and can therefore identify its presence either in ourselves or in others
- Spiritual Aspects
- It has certain links and parallels with the prophetic gift, for example, the early Hebrew prophets were called "seers."
- The exercise of foresight also involves the use of wider than usual span of awareness; the person is open to perceptions not only at the factual or sensory levels but also at the level of direct apprehension or intuition. These latter perceptions reange across a spectrum od "hunches", gut level feelings, shrewd discernments, inputs that are mediated through the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as word of knowledge or a word of wisdom or that come in the form of dreams and visions
- Foresight requires the ability to integrate or synthesize these diverse inputs and perceptions so as to come up with a better than average prediction as to what the future may hold and what the appropriate response to it should be. This same capacity is possessed by the very small handful of truly outstanding players in any sport; they are always in the right place at the right time to take the unexpected pass or unexpected scoring opportunity.
- The Mindset of Foresight
Foresight requires certain specific capacities or capabilities at the intellectual or rational level and these need to be consciously applied and developed.
- Developing a constant and habitual orientations of the mind towards the future. If we are not continually looking for things in the future, we will never discover them. To seek and keep on seeking remains the basic condition of finding. If you are a leader, that is your calling. It demands that you develop a certain mindset. The future and whay may lie in the future, and what you may do in the future is one of the primary perspectives from which you must begin to examine everything that goes on around you.
- Acquiring the habit of examining everything and assessing everything in terms of potential and possibilities even if there is never going to be any chance of your making use of it.
- It also involves not only the active gathering of information, data, impressions, opinions, insights and hunches, but with it an instinctive sense for what is relavant and what is not and also the ability to see pattern, order and relationships between the facts
- Associated with this is the capacity for creative thinking that is, the ability to generate possibilities or ideas that make sense of some or all of the information that has been assembled. The deliberate abandonment of old stereotypes or ways of doing things. The familiar can be a barrier to the new, not because it is wrong but just because it is customary. Luke 5 – "old wine is better." When the way to the desired goal cannot be found, sometimes it pays to start from the goal and work backwards or from some point in the middle and work both ways. Often new ideas can be generated by cross-fertilization from unrelated fields or disciplines. Scripture does this repeatedly, using analogies from athletics, war, anatomy, agriculture and nature to illuminate spiritual truths.
- Having gathered all the information and data, there is the abiliity to step back from it within yourself and allow time for creative inspiration to emerge. Creative ideas or concepts may fall into any of the following categories: a) Ways of developing what already exists to its maximum capacity so that the present limits of productivity or effectiveness are surpassed; b) Ways of adapting or modifying what exists to achieve new or improved purposes; c) Achieving the same end as before but doing it more simply, more economically or more profitably; d) Unearthing hidden, undeveloped or unnoticed potential in people, organizations, things, situations, ideas or processes; e) Exploiting openings or entrepreneurial opportunities that no one else has seen; f) Finding answers to previously insoluble problems or new ways around difficulties or obstacles; g) Conceiving ideas that are innovative or completely original in the sense that they have never been done before
- Beyond the level of human ability there is also, for the Christian leader, access to divine wisdom – James 1:5. Divine wisdom does what human wisdom cannot do. It takes account ot ultimate issues, ultimate consequences and ultimate values and it can guide us to decisions that will in the end produce the very best results, regardless of what the position may appear to be in the short run.
- Inspiration may be a crisis or a process. Insight may come as a sudden flash of illumination or it may emerge gradually as the result of thought, discussion, tentative conclusions and modifications that come through reflection and reconsideration.
- How to Develop Foresight – real expertise is developed only when we take what we have been doing instinctively, learn deliberately and intentionally to do it better and practice it persistently until we do it habitually. The process can be conveniently analyzed into the following steps or stages:
- Identify your capacities or strengths
- Analyze whether you are neglecting them, misusing them or making only partial use of them
- Learn the correct or most effective ways to use or develop the capacities
- Endevour to improve your skill, increase your capacities and better your results with every performance
Henry Ford said, "Asking who should be the leader is like asking who should sing tenor in the quartet." The one with the tenor voice of course.
John 10:3-5 "The sheep hear His voice and come to Him; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. He walks ahead of them; and they follow Him for they recognize His voice. They won't follow a stranger but will run from him, for they do not recognize his voice."