To every one of us, the future is important. Maybe it’s because the future is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives. Or could it be something more, something about the human spirit that has us looking ahead to a better future for ourselves, our families, and every living thing on the planet. One thing is for sure; you won’t get to a better future without foresight.
Great leaders envision a better place for every stakeholder, and that includes employees, customers, and shareholders. When leadership foresight is compelling, inclusive, and easily definable, people want to be a part of it; they want to follow their leader to that place. “Easily definable” is the element within visions that facilitates the ethic of simplicity, and doing less, better in this complex world of business.
Clear visions work for inventors, athletes, sports teams, nations, and companies of all sizes and shapes. Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry said, “We must remember that the promise of tomorrow will not be fulfilled easily. The collective commitment of our nations, as well as the vision, wisdom, and hard work of many, many individuals will be required to bring our dreams to fruition. In a way, the Enterprise and the optimistic future in which it exists might be thought of as a reminder of what we can achieve if we try.”
Visionaries of the Information Age
The information age has spurred the rise of young entrepreneurs seeking seed money and angel investors for their business ideas. In the old economy, slick merchant bankers and private equity executives sat in wooded oak or mahogany boardrooms listening to slick presentations by blue-suited forty year olds. Today’s startup wannabes are twenty year olds in faded blue jeans carrying rucksacks of ideas, visions and dreams. You know who they are. Some became renowned billionaire luminaries; many are millionaires. Thousands continue to try, and try again they will. The nutrition that feeds their entrepreneurial lust is vision.
The choice facing every corporate leader is whether to lead change or scramble to catch up to it. A clear and simple vision from a leader’s foresight is the vital starting point, but that doesn’t always guarantee changes in behavior. Nodding to the premise is easy. Travelling back and forth the nine inches between the head and the heart is the tough part. Leadership is the conduit. By converting ambivalent feelings and snuffing out procrastination, leaders can help their followers accept change, emotionally and rationally.
One can say that the future of the world has never been so bleak. But, never before have so many given of themselves to challenge the issues threatening mankind. From concerned global warming scientists to doctors without borders, these leaders are dedicated to a better future. There is no place for procrastination in their foresight.
Elon Musk is the quintessential business visionary. Musk is the trailblazer behind the Tesla electric car. His foresight doesn’t end there. He envisions commercial and affordable space taxis (his company has already built one). In 2013, Musk unveiled an idea to revolutionize rapid transit, to create a submarine car, and a hyper speed jet. The grass is not growing under this leader’s feet.