Quote of the week
“They might not think of [foresight] in terms of an ethical issue, but as good leadership.”
A recent online article suggests that foresight could be considered a leadership competency. The idea is from Robert Greenleaf who argued, the article points out, that it is an ethical issue if leaders fail to “make the effort at an earlier time to foresee today’s events and take the right actions when there was freedom for initiative to act.”’
Foresight is a process that looks not at the future but at possible futures. It systematically gathers information and intelligence to give leaders insights into potential trends, drivers, and uncertainties their organization could face.
From this knowledge, leaders can develop scenarios for the future, using probability as a guide. The key is to understand that the future is uncertain.
Foresight or not, Greenleaf’s suggestion that leaders need to be forward thinking is a good one, and should resonate with public sector leaders.
In a world of change, public sector leaders can’t just sit back and wait. Although the future is uncertain, they still have a responsibility to their organizations and the people in it.
Put differently, if they don’t lead their organizations through change, change will happen to them.
Thus, the challenge they face is to lead their people – and their organizations – through ambiguity toward an uncertain future. They need to examine the forces shaping an indeterminate future and set in motion strategies for survival.
In short, they need to look ahead to make sure their people and their organizations remain relevant.
Foresight, perhaps. But looking ahead, most definitely. That is the essence of public sector leadership in the 21st century.