Servant Leadership and Foresight (Pillar 5)
Servant Leadership and Foresight (Pillar 5)
Posted on August 25, 2016 7:48 am MST, by Crystal Davis
"No one is ever as shocked and surprised as when the inevitable occurs."
The fifth pillar of Servant Leadership as described in James Sipe and Don Frick's book, Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, is about a Servant-Leader who possesses Foresight. A Servant-Leader, who possess Foresight imagines limitless possibilities, forecasts the future and moves forward with a clear purpose. Servant Leaders with Foresight;
- Views foresight as the central ethic of leadership.
- Knows how to access the inner intuition.
- Articulates and encourages a shared vision.
- Sees creativity as a strategic tool.
- Is discerning, decisive, and a courageous decision-maker.
Three core competencies of a Servant-Leader who possesses Foresight;
- Displays Creativity
- Takes Courageous, Decisive Action
Robert Greenleaf suggested that foresight is, “To [sic] have a sense for the unknowable and be able to foresee the unforeseeable." Possessing foresight is the ability to have people follow you, trust you, and trust your foresight. What struck me very powerfully is the idea that foresight is deeply aligned with the intuitive mind. I believe that is why we may have challenges with foresight is because it asks us to trust our inner guidance as a source of leadership and leading others.
We have become indoctrinated to follow everything but our own internal compass. As a child, I always felt like I was to obey, believe and listen to everything outside of myself (parents, school, church, family, etc.) even though I had inner thoughts/voice/notions that were different. It wasn't until I was an adult that I dropped the outer for the inner. This is exactly what Robert Greenleaf spoke about. It is essential to our growth as Servant-Leaders.
Intuition is valuable, but, what is more valuable is the decision to act on the impulse of intuition. As Servant-Leaders, it is of great value to us to trust the heart and our gut intuitions because it goes far beyond the analytical work to evolve and expand the idea of foresight. What we can learn from foresight is that it is indeed different from planning. Daniel Kim said foresight is, “the significance and nature of events before they occur, to make predictions that can guide followers to a better future.”
Daniel Kim’s book, Foresight as the Central Ethic of Leadership is a powerful description of foresight, awareness vision, reflective action, mental models, choice and seeing. I believe Kim’s thoughts are summed up in Greenleaf’s writings on Foresight and the role of vision;
“Awareness is not a giver of solace. It is just the opposite. It is the disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awaken and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.”
Foresight is inextricably tied to Spirit (God, or whatever name you choose). The inner knowing (intuition) is where Spirit speaks to us. Meditation helps guide us to that place where if we listen, we can hear the small still voice of Spirit. Sipe and Frick discuss meditation, however, in the book they call it silence. This is the best way in which to tap into intuition and to learn to trust its guidance. It is a journey, but a worthwhile one.
Caroline Myss, in her book, Invisible Acts of Power: Channeling Grace in Your Everyday Life has this to say about intuition;
“Never, ever underestimate the inherent power that exists within your own archive of wisdom, and never ever judge the quality of your wisdom by the response of the listener.” Early in my leadership career, that statement hit me like a ton of bricks! Seeking validation out of oneself is dangerous.
Moreover, Myss discusses acts of service, which align with Servant Leadership. She also ties in the God aspect of our inner life. Myss says;
“Mystics and saints maintain a consciousness of the presence of God within themselves and others. They aim to practice this mindfulness at every moment -at prayer, at work, when dealing with each other. Out of this practice of noticing, of awakening to who is around us and what is around us, out of this mindfulness of ourselves and others, we create invisible acts of power."
In summary, Kim gives us the greatest challenge of all in developing foresight. Indeed, it goes hand-in-hand with intuition and leading from foresight;
"The ability to be clear about one's life purpose is critical for establishing a strong foundation on which all future choices will rest. This requires profound self-knowledge and high personal mastery for a leader to be clear about WHO she is, which in turn requires a deep awareness of one's core values that define who we are."
Kim’s book could have just been a sermon for me and to that I say a resounding, “Amen!”