Become a Better Leader by Taking a Future Perspective to Problem Solving

Leaders are busy people.

When faced with a challenge, most leaders approach it with this question in mind:

“How do I get this issue off my plate NOW? What can I do immediately?”

What might happen if you took a different perspective?

What if you looked 10 years into the future and asked:

“How can I solve this problem in a way that will get the organization closer to fulfilling its long term Vision? How might solving this issue potentially solve future issues?”

Viewing your challenge from the future perspective inspires a new level of thinking.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Let’s say you recently relocated a manager from one state to another. This manager approaches you with an issue. Their new cost of living is much higher than they anticipated, making their compensation insufficient.

If you take the “solve this right now” approach, you might offer an increase or bonus. Problem solved.

However, if you consider this problem from the future perspective, you get additional insight and you see the larger picture.

By looking at the situation at the 10-year mark, it might become clear to you that this manager has a lot of potential – and might very well be the person that eventually replaces you.

Now the problem isn’t simply a manager who wants more compensation. There’s a risk that your future successor may leave the company.

From this vantage point, you can develop a more comprehensive solution.

Instead of simply offering to increase compensation, you map out a 10-year career path for them from their current role as manager of a business unit, to general manager, through VP of operations, then COO, and ultimately president.

You also set some high-level goals for each role and determine levels of compensation and performance incentives.

Then you share the plan with them.

Can you see the difference?

This one question prompted much longer-term strategic thinking.

What issues are on YOUR agenda today that could benefit from this perspective?

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