The ability to look to the future as a trait of a good leader
Being a leader may colloquially mean being at the forefront - of a state, corporation, company - and managing it as you see fit. At the same time, people who happen to dream of leading often imagine themselves in the spotlight, like a celebrity or big star. A perfect leader, looking to the future, should see not his individual success, but a stable, developing company that brings benefits to future generations. The leader does not create his own brand - the leader creates a brand that even outlasts him.
Why are great leaders great today?
In support of the thesis that a leader should not build his vision and goal on himself, but on his work, it is worth quoting the figures of great leaders. Importantly, they are also considered great today, in some cases many hundreds of years after their death. Some are brutal, aggressive, maybe barbaric, but also unforgettable and building powerful works.
The first of such leaders was the well-known Alexander of Macedon, known as the Great - the ruler of Macedon, who lived in the 4th century BCE, an excellent strategist and leader. Alexander conquered a large part of the ancient world, creating the largest empire in existence, with an east-west span of 5,000 km. Although after his death, the huge state fell apart as a result of internal wars and clashes, nevertheless the work of this leader remained in the memory of mankind, written down in culture, art and history textbooks.
A less powerful leader, yet remembered and well known to all modern people, was Christopher Columbus. He, too, had a vision - to discover the sea route leading to India, which would make trading with local merchants much easier and less risky. It is true that the very goal of Columbus' expedition was not achieved - America was unexpectedly in his way, yet the vision of discovering something new, finding a new sea route, contributing to the world and experiencing the adventure appealed to many. He was definitely a man who had the ability to look to the future. 90 people took part in the first expedition, so many of them have signed up for the second one that it was necessary to select and reduce the crew to - a trifle - about 2,000 people. Columbus picked up so many people not because of a desire to build his authority, but because of his vision of blazing the path to future generations (and riches).
It is not only the expansion of the country's borders that allows us to call someone a great leader. An example in this case is Pope John Paul II, who with each pilgrimage carried away crowds, especially young people. Beloved by many, criticized and condemned by many, in spite of everything, he can be counted among the great leaders. What was he striving for? For peace, understanding, the elimination of cultural or religious boundaries.
History knows many great leaders, but the three examples above show that the thesis put at the beginning is true - in order to impel others to action, you first need a goal and a vision.
What is the impact of being able to look ahead to your goal, path and success?
Alexander of Macedon caused wars, Columbus discovered new territories, and John Paul II was not interested in lands, but in people. So what did these three characters have in common that they were included in the canon of the greatest leaders in the world? One and the most important - purpose and ability to look to the future.
Of course, each of these people had a different goal, and the means to achieve it were completely different. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that the armies would follow Alexander, the ships' crews would follow Columbus, and the youth of most of the world would follow the Polish Pope, if their actions did not unambiguously pursue a specific achievement. None of them led people into a void, each pointed to what he is striving for himself and what he can offer to others at the same time.
The leader's goals in the enterprise will be perhaps less spectacular or less lofty than the goals of historical figures. However, their designation is necessary at the very beginning, so that the idea of starting a company arises at all, and then - in order not to rest on our laurels. Importantly, the goals in the company cannot be as volatile as 90% of New Year's resolutions - they must be specific, strong and unchanging, and at the same time flexible enough to be adapted to the changing conditions in and around the business.
A good leader should therefore start planning his business by determining what it will become in the future. It is not worth limiting yourself at this point, you can even let your imagination run wild. Main goal established? Okay, then it's time to break it to pieces. Most people are perfectly familiar with a situation in which they dream of something distant and seemingly unattainable. So if you can't get it anyway, it's not even worth starting. Here, however, lies the fundamental error - there is no single, straight path to any great goal. Each of them consists of many stages, minor achievements and decisions. Breaking down a large task into small steps that must be climbed one after the other makes the job much easier. What seems more realistic - running a mountain marathon the next day, or taking up the first training in the form of running interspersed with walking? Exactly.
It's a good idea to update your corporate goals - and any other goals - often. In this case, it is worth considering both the company itself and the team that it leads. While the company as a whole is genuinely seeking to achieve what its leader has set himself, the minor goals of employees may differ from what the leader has set for them. It's worth taking advantage of.
Employees are most motivated to work when they identify with what they are doing.
When you sit down to plan your company's goals for the next period, it's a good idea to spend some time considering the ideas and needs of your subordinates. If the company is small, the leader should find time to talk to each of them. When there is growth and the team grows significantly, it is worth investing in a good human resource management department. What can employees contribute to the company's goals? First of all, own ideas for development, alternative solutions, new paths. They can add something, improve something, and at the same time indicate what they see themselves in. Admitting your team to such a dialogue allows you to really gain a lot for the company, and at the same time gives you the opportunity to be up to date with the needs of employees. Additionally, subordinates treated in this way will most likely feel much more responsible for what is happening in the company than if all decision-making processes took place outside of them.
Too much willfulness? Of course, the leader does not have to agree with every idea and let employees go within the company in the direction they want. However, the practice of large corporations shows that supporting employees in personal development most often pays off. The subordinate, when he sees that the company takes into account his individual interests, also tries to shape them in such a way that they serve the company. An example is a giant like Google - in this corporation, senior employees ⅕ of the time they spend at work can spend on their own development.Therefore, they have time, they also have access to company resources, they can activate their creativity and come up with whatever their heart desires. Of course, in smaller companies it is usually not possible to provide employees with enough time for self-development, but it is certainly possible to involve them in the corporate planning and improvement of the company's goals.
The ability to look to the future, and changes and continuous development of the company
The goal was set, and thanks to hard work and commitment, it was also achieved. The company is stable, generates profits, employees do what they like. And what's next? You might think it would be good if such a status quo would last forever. It is neither possible nor effective in the company. Here again, a well-educated ability to look to the future is needed.
Each company must constantly develop. It is not even about the fact that if it had not been for the search for something better, not even the wheel would have been invented. Currently, in the era of globalization, each enterprise operates in a network of many factors of a technological, legal, economic, international, etc. nature. A change, improvement or disturbance in any of these elements, even at the highest level, is likely to affect the economy of smaller companies as well.
Therefore, in order not to be left behind and not succumb to negative influences, each company must change. It is therefore necessary to set new goals for oneself and to pursue them, updating them along the way so that they are achievable in the light of current conditions. The changes may seem unpleasant or unnecessary, but they are necessary. It is common to stay in a state that is well known and therefore appears to be safe and the best. Nevertheless, you have to go beyond your comfort zone and start expanding it looking to the future.
Leader development and company development
For a company to be competitive and effective, it needs to grow - that has already been established. It is similar with the leader himself - after creating his own company and a well-functioning team, he cannot rest on his laurels. As a leader, he must constantly develop - both in terms of personal and specialist development in relation to the industry in which he works.
Why is it so important? The company has been undergoing constant changes since its inception and at each stage of its operation it requires a different manager - sometimes more a leader, sometimes - a manager. Therefore, while at the forefront of his own enterprise, the leader must properly adapt his management methods to what the company needs and what the team is building. Of course, as time goes on, it will become impossible to manage each department personally, and it will be necessary to hire or select specialists - who, however, will still be under the responsibility of one leader.
It is also worth remembering that conduction in a range that you have no idea about can end up very badly. A leader with the ability to look to the future not only shows the direction - his confidence in what he is striving for and what he wants to achieve gives his team psychological comfort and security. People in such a company are sure that their actions, time, energy and ideas are not pointless, on the contrary - each of them brings the company closer to success in its own scope. However, if it turns out that the leader can and has a vision of a great company, while having no idea about its internal functioning or the profile of its operation, it will be hard to take him seriously. It will also be difficult to trust him and entrust his own resources by engaging in a company.