The following is an excerpt from my book One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get your copy here). This post will help you be more visionary and force yourself to look into the future.
Your team looks to you for new ideas, inspiration, and indicators of how you want to approach change. If you personally never challenge the status quo, you cannot expect them to bring you a bevy of new ideas to help you achieve your vision.
You must first force yourself to regularly question the way things are, so you can break through the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” barrier to create something new. This kind of questioning will help you identify new opportunities or threats before it is too late to do something about them. Vision is great, but action is what gets you there, and for action to occur, you must first identify the opportunities and ideas on which to act.
Many leaders become complacent about looking into the future. They believe they know what lies ahead for their organization. They stop focusing on the future because it seems clear what is in store for them, and they believe that the best use of their energy is to drive current operations. These leaders would do well to heed the sage words of Paul Saffo: “Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.”
Great leaders consistently look beyond clarity into the uncomfortable ambiguity ahead. They embrace their responsibility to find new ideas that prepare their organization to win in uncertain future environments. Failure to look beyond those short distances will lead you to miss the opportunities and crises that inevitably await.
Do not expect to have all the answers. You will not create all the ideas by yourself. Your team, peers, customers, boss, and other affected stakeholders in your organization will help you identify new opportunities and generate new ideas. Your role in leading the thinking is leading the team to have the right conversation in the first place.