How Leaders Can Predict the Future

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How Leaders Can Predict the Future

Scotts Teambuilding - 3 leaders walking in the street
Creating the future is the real work of leaders. To create a pleasing future, one must first be able to predict it, and in a world where the only certainty is change, one needs to be able to anticipate, analyse and motivate the responses they seek from their circumstances. As Abraham Lincoln and many greats since have stated: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” While research suggests that our ability to predict which stocks to buy or sell is as accurate as flipping a coin, we at Scott’s Teambuilding understand that creating that future is best managed by creating it. As such, we have explored how leaders can create the future and, in so doing, transform their business.

Don’t be Fooled by the Rhetoric

To predict the future you must be able to reasonably predict the actions of people, so you must understand their motivations. Therefore you must be able to see through the rhetoric. Look not at what leaders are saying but their actions, which are known to speak louder than words. To listen is good, to watch is important, but to understand is essential. There is no reason to be surprised by people’s behavior, unless you’ve failed to observe it.

Look for the Signs

A few things will help discern the future of a career, project, product or company. For example, taking a close look into the character and commitment of the people driving them. The signs of success and failure are always clearly visible to those who look. Visionary leaders see the reality of a situation. They refrain from the common delusion of seeing what they choose to see and base their actions on a realistic interpretation of the signs.

See the Invisible

Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research, in his bestselling book Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible, presented a number of key principles to achieve results and transform businesses by predicting the future. These include:

Base Your Strategies on What You Know about the Future

When you anticipate your future challenges and opportunities, you can redefine your product or service to capitalise on the hard trends you see unfolding, enter new markets, and become the leader. Change will disrupt every aspect of every industry and every aspect of human activity—except for those who see it coming.

Look Where No One Else is Looking

When searching for the real problem you want to address, it’s not always easy to know where to look. One way to help tease that insight to the surface is to note where everyone else is looking—and then look in the opposite direction. Ask yourself, “What is the current way of thinking regarding any subject in my industry?” Then explore the opposite to see new opportunities.

Welcome Change

Change your view of the future, and you direct your future. Changing the future starts with the present, by knowing your business, your people and the current trends. While expecting the best outcomes and planning for the worst, you are foreseeing all possible opportunities and challenges. Today change itself has become an integral part of stability. You can achieve stability by embracing change as a continuous and permanent state. By becoming a better leader, you will not only predict the future, you will have the power to change it.