Leaning into the future

Sep 22nd

I’m participating in my first MOOC run by MIT on Transforming Business, Society and Self and one of the interesting questions was why do we have ( or practice) leadership that collectively produces results that no one wants?

This applies as much to businesses and organizations as it does to society. So why do the results we get rarely match our visions and intentions? I’m hoping the collective wisdom of the MIT faculty and the 35,000 participants in the MOOC will give me some answers to try with clients. But in the meantime I wonder if it is to do with how much focus and attention leaders, collectively, give to their intended purpose and vision.

The standard leadership operating model brings people with different roles and accountabilities together and expects them to envision, articulate and lead a collective intention. Leaders spend most of their time in the space of their individual roles and accountabilities. The collective intention is only actively discussed, monitored, revised when leaders are together as a collective.

But when leadership teams meet collectively the business is often information exchange and consultation about the individual spheres of accountability. Very little time in the working week is spent ‘leaning in’ collectively ‘to the future’ as the MIT course might express it.

I’m not suggesting more workshops to craft visions! I’m wondering what would it be like if leaders could shift their attention and energy in their collective working so that 80% (rather than less than 20%) is on the future purpose and vision? What would that look like? Where and how would the agenda that currently fills the space, be done? Could leadership teams at every level ‘lean in’ to the future more and ‘count the past’ less?


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