The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead

Anticipate

Business schools, leadership gurus and strategy guides agree — leaders must have a vision. But the sad truth is that most don’t…or at least not one that compels, inspires
and energizes their people. How can something so essential be practiced so little in real life? Vision may sound like a rare quality, unattainable by all except a select few — but nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can expand their visionary capacity. You just need to learn how.

In Anticipate, strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains that to develop
vision you must sharpen two key skills. The first is the ability to see things early — spotting
the first hints of change on the horizon. The second is the power to connect the
dots — turning those clues into a gripping story about the future of your organization
and industry. Packed with stories and practices, Anticipate provides proven techniques for
looking ahead and exploring many plausible futures, including the author’s trademarked
Future Priming process, which helps distinguish signal from noise.

You will discover how to tap into your imagination and open yourself to the unconventional,
become better at seeing things early, frame the big-picture view that provides
direction for the future, and communicate your vision in a way that engages others and
provokes action. When you anticipate change before your competitors, you create enormous strategic advantage. That’s what visionaries do … and now so can you.

Part I: Visionary Content

The Groundwork
Creating a vision requires ideas, ideally intriguing and refreshing ideas that trigger people’s interest, curiosity and excitement. It requires engagement with your imagination and an ability to think outside the clichéd box.

Tapping into Your Imagination
Without imagination, you are stating the obvious or holding on to the status quo; your  vision falls flat. With it, however, your vision becomes intriguing, exciting, refreshing.
Suddenly, it has the potential to energize and mobilize.

Part II: Visionary Practices

Developing Your Visionary Capacity
The potential to come up with — and hold on to and cultivate — a brilliant idea or a vision is within all of us. Visionary leadership isn’t a personality trait, although it is sometimes confused with concepts like charismatic leadership. The big question is how. How do you go about developing this crucial leadership competence?

Seeing Things Early
We’re not aiming to become accurate, or even good, predictors of the future. Instead, we’re working to develop an increased awareness of changing realities, building
antennas for the distant signals that might push the future in a different direction from the one we currently and conventionally foresee. We can then become better at recognizing those signals and their potential impact when they present themselves in some early form. Your ability to see things early is at the heart of what leadership expert Warren Bennis calls adaptive capacity.

Connecting the Dots
In addition to strengthening the ability to see things early, we must equally improve our ability to create a coherent story going forward. This coherent story must consist of what we expect, foresee, envision, and anticipate. It needs to resonate, make sense, and be the guiding light into the future for our followers. I call this second developmental dimension of visionary capacity the ability to connect the dots.

Part III: Your Visionary Self

Your Visionary Self
Author Warren Bennis promotes an integrated perspective on leadership, consisting of four essential competencies: vision, adaptive capacity, voice, and integrity. Here we’ll explore the relationship between your visionary capacity and Bennis’ concepts of voice and integrity — the identity-oriented aspects.

Mindful Behavior
Leading with authenticity also means you must practice what you preach. The best evidence of your true feelings and beliefs comes less from your words than from your
deeds. When your words are believably connected to what you do, when you behave in line with your vision, only then do you display integrity and build trust with your followers.

Part IV: Visionary Communication

Igniting Your Followers
You can have great ideas, make the powerful practices second nature, have clarity on your core purpose and values, and exercise the right behaviors for growth. But if you are unable to communicate your vision in a way that engages and energizes others, the Vision Thing still won’t work for you. There are several specific visionary communication qualities that, when done right, will transform your story from something future-oriented but technical and uninspiring to something that invigorates your followers.

 

How to Lead Breakthrough Change Against Any Odds

stackingthedeck

Change is a constant, and leaders must do more than keep up — they must innovate and accelerate to succeed. Yet people are often unnerved by change. As a leader during a time of transformation, you may stand up before teams that are indifferent, or even hostile, and need to convince them that change is necessary and urgent. What does it take to be an effective change leader and increase the odds of success?

Stacking the Deck presents a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from
the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation,
including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to
the wider group. Based on Dave Pottruck’s experiences leading change as CEO of
Charles Schwab and later as chairman of CorpU and HighTower Advisors, these
steps provide a guide to ensure that your change initiative and your team have the
best possible shot at success.

Leading an organization through major change — whether it’s the introduction
of a new product, an expansion to a new territory or a difficult downsizing — is
not for the faint of heart. While success is never guaranteed, the right leadership,
process, and team make all the difference. For all leaders facing major change in
their organizations, Stacking the Deck is an indispensable resource for putting the
odds in your favor.

The nine crucial steps for creating breakthrough change in your organization:

Step One: Establishing the Need to Change and a Sense of Urgency

In leading breakthrough change, we must first convince others — those to whom we report and those on our team — that our proposed change has a positive, necessary
and urgent purpose.

Step Two: Assembling and Unifying Your Team

Leaders must rely on a well-balanced leadership team. It’s your job to actively develop and unify a group that will guide the organization in making your change a reality. You are looking for pioneers, for people who are comfortable with a greater degree of risk than
the average person.

Step Three: Developing and Communicating a Clear and Compelling Vision of the Future

Once you have your leadership team in place, you and your team need to be ready to envision and communicate the future in such a vivid and irresistible way that everyone
around you understands your vision and shares your passion for it.

Step Four: Planning Ahead for Known and Unknown Barriers

The fourth step in the Stacking the Deck process is all about anticipating problems as you are planning, and confronting these problems before they derail your efforts.

Step Five: Creating a Workable Plan

Now you need to translate the inspiring vision of the future that you and your team have developed into a workable, real-world plan.

Step Six: Partitioning the Project and Building Momentum With Early Wins

Leading breakthrough change often means working toward an end that seems distant and out of focus. If your people can’t visualize the future in real terms, they’ll find it difficult to muster the urgency to undertake the journey. You therefore need ways to make the immediate steps clear and to help people — particularly those who may not have been involved in developing the vision but who will be crucial to its realization — see the path to the future in real, concrete terms.

Step Seven: Defining Metrics, Developing Analytics and Communicating Results

To define success for your initiative you need to focus on measurable outcomes. People need to see the end result with such clarity that they can act on their own.

Step Eight: Assessing, Recruiting and Empowering the Team

This builds on the work you did in Step Two. At this point, you might want to revisit and repeat some of those initial team-building actions.

Step Nine: Testing with Pilots to Increase Success

Defining a precise set of rules about how to roll out your next breakthrough initiative is impossible: the potential projects are simply too diverse. Nevertheless, appropriate
and careful use of pilot projects is a consistent thread in successful rollouts; pilots can dramatically enhance your prospects for success.

Find New Approaches with These Summaries

This month, our book summaries are all about looking ahead and finding new approaches to doing business. Learn how to anticipate the future of your organization, prepare for change, and take a new approach to working with people. Each of these authors are on the cutting edge in their area of expertise.

Anticipate

 

 

 

Anticipate
by Rob-Jan de Jong

Business schools, leadership gurus and strategy guides agree — leaders must have a vision. But the sad truth is that most don’t…or at least not one that compels, inspires and energizes their people. How can something so essential be practiced so little in real life? Vision may sound like a rare quality, unattainable by all except a select few — but nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can expand their visionary capacity. You just need to learn how.

In Anticipate, strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains that to develop vision you must sharpen two key skills. The first is the ability to see things early — spotting the first hints of change on the horizon. The second is the power to connect the dots — turning those clues into a gripping story about the future of your organization and industry. Packed with stories and practices, Anticipate provides proven techniques for looking ahead and exploring many plausible futures, including the author’s trademarked Future Priming process, which helps distinguish signal from noise.

You will discover how to tap into your imagination and open yourself to the unconventional, become better at seeing things early, frame the big-picture view that provides direction for the future, and communicate your vision in a way that engages others and provokes action. When you anticipate change before your competitors, you create enormous strategic advantage. That’s what visionaries do … and now so can you.

stackingthedeck

 

 

 

Stacking the Deck
by David S. Pottruck

Change is a constant, and leaders must do more than keep up — they must innovate and accelerate to succeed. Yet people are often unnerved by change. As a leader during a time of transformation, you may stand up before teams that are indifferent, or even hostile, and need to convince them that change is necessary and urgent. What does it take to be an effective change leader and increase the odds of success?

Stacking the Deck presents a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation, including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to the wider group. Based on Dave Pottruck’s experiences leading change as CEO of Charles Schwab and later as chairman of CorpU and HighTower Advisors, these steps provide a guide to ensure that your change initiative and your team have the best possible shot at success.

Leading an organization through major change — whether it’s the introduction of a new product, an expansion to a new territory or a difficult downsizing — is not for the faint of heart. While success is never guaranteed, the right leadership, process, and team make all the difference. For all leaders facing major change in their organizations, Stacking the Deck is an indispensable resource for putting the
odds in your favor.

giveandtake

 

 

 

Give and Take
by Adam Grant

For generations we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent and luck. But in today’s dramatically reconfigured world, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. Give and Take illuminates what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership skills have in common.

Adam Grant examines the surprising forces that shape why some people rise to the top of the success ladder, while others sink to the bottom. In professional interactions, it turns out that most people operate as takers, matchers or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own groundbreaking studies, Grant reveals that these styles have a dramatic impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Praised by social scientists, business theorists and corporate leaders, Give and Take opens up an approach to work, interactions and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. This visionary approach to success has the power to transform not just individuals and groups but entire organizations and communities.

 

 

 

Book Review: Bringing Strategy Back

BringingStrategyBack

by Jeffrey Sampler

When the world of business is so chaotic, leaders need strategy more than ever. However, the business environment is changing too quickly for conventional strategic planning processes. In Bringing Strategy Back, Sampler explains why strategy is more important than ever for your business. Strategy expert Jeffrey Sampler introduces four “strategic shock absorbers” that enable leaders to build resilient organizations that can withstand even the most unexpected global turbulence.

With four “strategic shock absorbers,” leaders all around the world at organizations of any size and type can build strong organizations that withstand chaos and instability. Based on the Sampler’s in-depth research into the world’s most unstable markets, these strategic shock absorbers work together in an ongoing process that can be applied to any organization: Accuracy, Agility, Momentum and Foresight. Of the four, agility helps leaders deliver with speed and flexibility in terms of strategic options. Leaders need to be able to act quickly using agility in unpredictable markets.

Businesses can’t afford to become stagnant in their strategic process in order to survive and thrive. Sampler says that giving up the old way of strategic planning can seem risky; however customizing the best approach for your business will make a positive difference. With this new framework, Bringing Strategy Back shows how to be prepared and proactive, rather than reactive, even when the future is uncertain.

Book Review: Low-Hanging Fruit

LowHangingFruit

by Jeremy Eden and Terri Long

Consultants Jeremy Eden and Terri Long define low-hanging fruit as the targets or goals that are easily achievable and do not require a lot of effort. Your business can achieve better results with greater ease by thinking small and reaching for the low-hanging fruit like many of the smartest companies today. Eden and Long share 77 of their most effective techniques for generating real performance improvements drawn from their success working with major companies. In Low-Hanging Fruit, the authors explain why leaders should not agonize over large-scale change efforts and ways to reduce costs. Instead, they show leaders how to go after small solvable problems and uncover the low-hanging fruit.

“True low-hanging fruit is within your reach. Harvesting low-hanging fruit produces bigger results with much less risk than those big projects on which companies rely, like strategic transformations and enterprise-wide systems! Individual pieces of low-hanging fruit come in all sizes — from those worth millions of dollars to those worth just a few thousand dollars. Collectively, it is your growth engine,” write Eden and Long. Of the 77 techniques outlined by Eden and Long, the first few help leaders and managers find ways to see problems easily, for example “Ask “Why?” Five Times to See the Real Problem.” This point illustrates the importance of asking “Why?” which will help you gain progress toward finding the right problem to solve.

If you think you don’t have the resources to be faster, better and more profitable, think again. Low-Hanging Fruit will help managers and leaders to boost productivity in their organizations by identifying and solving hidden problems.