My friend Mark is an Optical Engineer in the Australian Army and amongst other things he calibrates scopes for snipers. You know you’re passionate about leadership when even talking about weapon calibration gets you thinking about leadership principles! One statement he made really stuck with me “Just a 1mm adjustment of a screw slightly bigger than a pinhead can cause the firer to miss their target by more than 2 metres when firing from the common distance of one kilometre. Such a small change made in the wrong direction can have catastrophic consequences”.
So when did you last fine tune your vision as a leader? In the long run maintaining the right strategic focus for you and your business will be the difference between hitting your target or experiencing potentially catastrophic consequences.
Every leader must master three aspects of visionary sight –
1. Hindsight: The ability to reflect and learn from the past
2. Insight: The ability to interpret and respond to the present
3. Foresight: The ability to predict and prepare for the future
But while every leader must operate in all three aspects of vision, which focus they rely on most will have far-reaching implications for the organisations they build.
Which focus do you favour?
Hindsight Leadership: Tends to emphasise the value of experience and evidence. They look at the future through the eyes of the past. Like a lawyer they tend to look for a precedent for every decision. They’re hoping it’s true that “history repeats itself”. Although we absolutely must reflect on the past and learn the lessons it offers us, we cannot afford to become overly focused on the past in our leadership any more than we can afford to drive whilst staring in the rear vision mirror.
Insight Leadership: Tends to emphasise the value of tactics and reality. They look at the future as an extrapolation of current events and trends. Finely tuned to what is happening around them, they hope that by responding correctly now they will experience success in the future. Although they’re not spending a lot of time looking backwards, they’re also not spending much time looking ahead. The focus becomes about where we are now and what step we could take next. For this leader the old adage not to “climb the ladder only to find it’s leaning across the wrong wall” contains an important warning.
Foresight Leadership: Tends to emphasise possibilities and innovation. They look at the future as uncharted territory or a clean slate. Although they reflect on the past and respond to the present, they are much more concerned with preparing for the future. They drive their organisations with glances in the rear vision mirror and awareness of their surroundings but more than anything else they have clear focus on where they are going and what’s coming up on the road ahead.
Leaders should consider what Mark reminds himself every time he checks a weapon, “In my line of work, making fine adjustments to a sniper’s sighting system can either improve their accuracy or severely hamper them from achieving their mission”.
• So is it time to readjust your focus or recalibrate your team’s vision?
• Or is your leadership allowing a “Ready… Fire… Aim” approach?
• It’s mission critical to maintain the right direction and a future focus, especially in challenging economic times.
Your comments and feedback are appreciated
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