Understand The Past – Know The Present – Improve Intermediate – Aim For A Better Future!

One of the greatest potential dangers to meaningful, effective leadership, is the unwillingness and/or inability, to perceive and conceive of the numerous obvious and potential ramifications of a variety of actions (or inactivity), as well as the tendency to overly focus on either the glorious old days (the history), present issues or concerns, intermediate impacts (generally considered to be from 3 to 5 years), or the long-term ramifications, needs, and sustainability of the organization into the future. Quality leaders know it’s important to know and have a handle on current needs, concerns, issues or priorities, but to avoid taking the proverbial band-aid approach, and acting, with a keen eye on the future. True relevance only comes from evaluating every alternative, from the perspective of whether it builds upon the positives from the organization’s past (heritage), resolving and addressing current needs, addressing where to take the group in the next three to five years, and how to do so, to assure a relevant, sustainable future.

1. Understand the past: Groups rarely flourish when they throw the baby out with the bath water. Significant organizations promote their heritage, as a way to attract their niche member, etc. That history generally is extremely relevant, in terms of better understanding the group’s mission and purpose/focus. When the heritage is forgotten or trivialized, there is often a concurrent loss of a number of long-term supporters/members. Why would that make any sense?

2. Know the present: Although the past is relevant, one must avoid wallowing or getting hung-up in an over-focus on what has been, rather than what should be! Be careful to listen effectively, keep your eyes wide open, and resolve current priorities/concerns, in a timely, well-considered manner.

3. 3-5 years, goals and plans: Before any group can become truly relevant and sustainable, it is necessary to enhance and improve the present and the intermediate-term. Leaders must proceed in an organized, well-considered, step-by-step approach.

4. Longer-term strategy, planning and vision: Our greatest leaders are always the ones who articulate their vital vision, in a vibrant, motivational way! This must be done in a strategic, clear-cut manner, and requires a discipline and focus on planning to lead. If one does not plan to lead, he rarely will do so effectively. Only when the plans move the group forward in a sustainable manner, will the group assure its viability and relevance.

Avoid myopic leadership, yet at the same time, be careful to avoid skipping any steps along the path to a brighter future. Effective leaders develop, articulate and communicate their love of the group’s heritage, but at the same time the need to evolve, and thus introduce their intermediate and longer-term views, and take present actions to assure they get where they want, and need to be!