How to Be First to the Future: A 21st Century Leadership Challenge

21st Century Leadership Challenge_How to Be First to the Future

A key 21st Century Leadership challenge is HOW TO BE FIRST to the future through faster, deeper, and broader FORETHOUGHT.

Why Forethought Is 21st Century Leadership Challenge

Forethought—the capacity to think ahead—yields many benefits. For example, when you think ahead you lower the possibility of being blindsided by something unexpected. When you anticipate problems and deal with them proactively, you don’t end up wasting time later with after-the-fact damage control. When you recognize opportunities early and taking advantage of them quickly. you reap the most rewards.

But the most important benefit of Forethought is the opportunity it gives you to be first to the future. This is certainly a best practice for 21st Century Leadership and it could be your ultimate competitive advantage.

Think about it. Who was the first person to walk on the moon? Neil Armstrong made that one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. But who was the second man to walk on the moon?

The case for Forethought is strong, but it is no mean feat in the 21st century.

Best Practice for 21st Century Leadership: Faster, Deeper, Broader Forethought

In a world where circumstances can change in the twinkling of an electronic eye, Forethought is an essential leadership characteristic. It’s not surprising that the world’s foremost experts on leadership, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, have found that “Forward-Looking” has, for over thirty years, been rated one of the most important leadership characteristics.

So the need for Forethought is not a new. What is new is that bar for Forethought is rising.

Why? Change that used to take months and years now occurs in days and hours. Since what is true today may not be true tomorrow, assumptions and strategies can not be taken for granted.  Assumptions and strategies must be reassessed frequently.

Then, there is Globalization, which expands the necessary scope of Forethought. The confluence of rapid technological change, interwoven financial markets, and increasing global competition generates unprecedented challenges and opportunities. It also compounds the consequences of decisions. This is why Forethought needs to be broader and deeper.

Information Volume and Complexity

But more frequent and broader, deeper  Forethought is easier said than done.  We are bombarded with so much information about what’s going on, it’s sometimes hard to know where we should be going. The volume and complexity are simply overwhelming.

This is not surprising. There are well-documented cognitive limitations of human information-processing capacity. The bottom line: there is simply too much information for any individual or small group to have a complete perspective. That is why we need to expand the circle of participation. 

How to Meet This 21st Century Leadership Challenge 

The key to meeting the 21st Century Leadership challenge of being first to the future is to expand your capacity to think ahead. This requires a new approach: synthesizing a broad spectrum of ideas, views, and opinions. This yields better Forethought than can be produced by an individual or an elite few. It is called tapping the power of  Collective Intelligence. ~ Leland Russell


Consider three questions … Do you:

  • Think about the Big Picture frequently enough?
  • Effectively tap the Collective Intelligence of the right minds at the right times?
  • Have the processes and tools you need for frequent, far-reaching Forethought?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no” and you want to know more about how you can meet this 21st Century Leadership challenge, let’s connect.

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