Looking Around the Corner, Part 1 was actually a blog post titled: Anticipation: The Leader as Futurist. Check it out by clicking the link. Let’s go a bit deeper here.
I think the #1 skill for a leader is the ability to anticipate, look around the corner, and take action to take advantage of opportunity and to reduce risks.
This applies to big strategic decisions like whether to focus on a new market or to make an acquisition. Anticipation ability also comes into play at more mundane levels. Let’s dig into those nooks and crannies like I do with my executive clients.
Because of our work on change leadership I pay attention to how individual people will react to changes. This is obvious when we’re officially implementing a big change. There is also tremendous value opportunity if we apply anticipation on a day-to-day level.
For example, what if as sales manager at the beginning of this year you announce a focus on increasing the volume of sales calls? Clearly this will help increase revenue so it seems like the way to go.
Let’s anticipate some of the implications.
Did you think about the impact on accounting and finance? How about sales support? Marketing? Operations?
We can wait for those impacts to play out and deal with the problems that come up or we can anticipate and take some action.
Let’s just look at the marketing manager. Does she even know about this shift in focus? Perhaps she should participate in the announcement. Hmm.
How does she feel about the shift in focus? More revenue. She should be excited about it. Maybe. Or, she could be worried about the increase in requests for leads or the sales person not paying as much attention to the quality of leads. Could you help her think through the impacts on her team and how she should respond to the sales people?
Not sure how she feels? Ask her. Take her through Change Breakthrough Analysis so she can think it through. Redesign based on what you learn.
This anticipation and action can avoid personnel problems, communication breakdowns, frustration, and even incorrect application of your objectives downstream.
Empathy is a big part of anticipation. Caring is the start then anticipating and paying attention to the perspectives of all involved solves problems before they are problems.
You’ve thought about it and establish this new focus to solve a problem. You’re moving on. Everyone else though is catching up. Going the extra mile to anticipate and deal with reaction pays off.
A great boss pays attention to these details.
Often I work through approaches like this with leaders like you. My job is to ask the questions like, what will Joe think about Betty getting involved with his area? Will Tom understand why you’re taking this interim step? How does what’s happening benefit Sherry? What are the assumptions? Are they valid? What do we need to explain?
These are anticipation questions you can ask yourself.
To do this week: Test yourself. Use your knowledge from one-on-one meetings to predict the reaction of a particular staff member to something that’s going on. Then take the time to sit down with them and find out how they actually fee about it. Did you learn anything?
Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.