Teams Depend Upon Great Leaders to Anticipate Problems Before They Arise

Teams Depend Upon Great Leaders to Anticipate Problems Before They Arise

Have you ever considered what separates a good leader from a truly exceptional one in the face of unforeseen challenges?

It often boils down to their ability to anticipate problems before they arise. The leaders who stand out aren’t just the ones who can handle crises as they occur. In fact, it’s those who have the foresight to prevent them in the first place.

But a good leader won’t just identify potential pitfalls. They’ll also foster a culture of proactive thinking within their team. By adopting key habits like staying on top of industry shifts, embracing innovation, and promoting transparent communication, they turn their team into a forward-driven force.

In this blog post, I’ll go over the advantage of being a proactive leader. Then, I’ll explain how to start thinking like one, and strategies to communicate your vision to your team.

The 5 Key Advantages of Being a Leader Who Can Anticipate Problems

Successful companies need people on their leadership team who do nothing but anticipate the next steps.

I remember working with a guy who was constantly wandering around the office bouncing ideas off the wall. It used to drive me nuts! For me, being interrupted to listen to some pie in the sky idea was a waste of my time. I had phone calls to place and sales to make, and clients to consult with, and people to train! Why are you walking around bugging everyone!?

Until I realized and understood that businesses need people like him!

Brandon liked to envision the future and wonder how things could be better. It was working with him that made me realize the vast importance of having different working geniuses on an executive team. Some of us are good at creating, others are perfect for inventing new processes. There are those of us that are made for rallying the team and pushing them to be better. And then there are those who we desperately need to be walking around, eating beef jerky, “bothering people,” asking questions that start with the words, “What if…?”

It Takes All Types to Form a Team

A successful company is not built by a bunch of people who walk, talk, and think the same way.

Brandon and I used to discuss the importance of leadership development post-COVID. We knew there was an inevitable need for executives to bring their teams together, but this had to come after the leaders worked on themselves. Great change and progress must start from the top before it can become fully modeled. Only then can it become a positive effect on the business.

To this day, every time I see beef jerky, I think of him, and I start to wonder how to make things better.

While I’m not suggesting you need a reputation for eating all the office’s beef sticks, what I am saying is there are distinct advantages to being a leader who thinks about the future and can anticipate problems:

Advantage #1: Minimize disruptions and setbacks by addressing issues before they escalate

A leader with foresight can spot potential problems on the horizon, much like a captain navigating through stormy seas.

By addressing these issues proactively, you aren’t just preventing minor issues from ballooning into major crises. It also establishes you as the safeguard of your team’s momentum. It’s an approach that’s crucial to maintaining a smooth, uninterrupted workflow. And most of all, it ensures that your team’s progress isn’t derailed by unforeseen challenges.

Advantage #2: Enhance the organization’s reputation for efficiency and preparedness

When a leader consistently anticipates and navigates around potential pitfalls, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Stakeholders, clients, and even your own team members begin to recognize and respect the organization’s ability to handle challenges with grace. This foresight builds trust and cements your reputation as a reliable, forward-thinking leader.

Anticipating problems sets a standard of excellence that permeates throughout the organization.

Advantage #3: Improve decision-making by considering potential challenges and their impact

Anticipatory leaders are akin to skilled chess players, always thinking several moves ahead.

By considering the possible future challenges and their impacts, you’re able to make more informed, strategic decisions. This not only prepares your team for what lies ahead but also ensures that you’re always one step ahead, ready to pivot or adapt as necessary.

Advantage #4: Increase team productivity and morale by preventing avoidable obstacles

A proactive leader acts as a shield, protecting the team from unnecessary hurdles.

By foreseeing and removing these roadblocks, you enable your team to maintain a steady flow of productivity. This not only leads to more efficient project completion but also boosts team morale, as your team members feel supported and valued in a well-oiled work environment.

Advantage #5: Foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement by proactively identifying areas for growth

Leaders who anticipate aren’t just problem-solvers, they’re cultivators of growth and innovation.

By constantly seeking out areas for improvement and encouraging your team to do the same, you create a dynamic culture where innovation thrives. This leads to the development of new ideas and processes while ensuring your organization is always staying ahead of the curve.

5 Essential Habits to Build a Future-Focused Mindset as a Leader

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams

The pandemic hit a lot of people in many different ways. I will never forget the week of March 17, 2020.

As one can imagine, the corporate team-building and public speaking industry took a pretty hard hit. For a good minute, we clung to the vine while every single client called to cancel their event, class, and training while the world quite literally shut down.

Our most popular charity team-building event, Build-A-Bike®, was no longer an option in a world where people could not gather. Or could it?

As a professional in the leadership development space, one of the most prominent complaints I heard from other leaders was how they were losing the team culture they once had. People were siloed and disengaged. It was like pulling teeth to get people to turn on their cameras and engage with the team on calls. They desperately needed fun team building that would boost the morale and make them feel like a united group despite the distance.

Desperate Times Breed Innovative-thinking

Through careful thought and collaboration, our skeleton crew put our heads together and created a virtual rendition of Build-A-Bike® that became the backbone of our existence through the pandemic.

We brought teams together from all across the world, and underprivileged children struggling in their unfortunate circumstances continued to receive their very first set of wheels, As a company, The Leader’s Institute invented something that grew from the heart and grit of those who carried it through times of uncertainty.

When it comes to difficult times like this, will you give up, or will you spring into action looking for ways to move forward?

If you want to be someone who acts in the face of adversity, the best way is to start building the correct habits now instead of when you need them.

Here are 5 essential habits to become a leader with a future-focused mindset:

Essential Habit #1: Stay informed about current events and trends that may impact your industry

In a world that’s constantly evolving, staying updated with the latest trends and events is crucial for forward-thinking leadership.

This habit ensures you’re never caught off guard and can adapt swiftly to changes. By keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry, you position yourself and your team to capitalize on emerging opportunities and avoid potential pitfalls.

Essential Habit #2: Seek out diverse perspectives and opinions to gain a broader understanding of possible future scenarios

Leadership in the modern age is as much about listening as it is about directing.

By actively seeking diverse viewpoints, you can challenge your own assumptions and broaden your understanding of various situations. This practice fosters a more inclusive environment and enables you to anticipate and prepare for a wider range of future scenarios.

Essential Habit #3: Embrace experimentation and encourage your team to explore innovative ideas

The leaders who thrive are those who aren’t afraid to try new things.

Encourage a culture of experimentation within your team, where innovative ideas are welcomed and failure is seen as a stepping stone to success. This habit not only breeds creativity but also ensures your team remains agile and adaptable in the face of change.

Essential Habit #4: Continuously learn and adapt to new technologies and tools that can drive future success

In an era where technology evolves at breakneck speed, a commitment to lifelong learning is non-negotiable for leaders.

Staying abreast of new technologies and tools not only enhances your own skillset but also ensures your team remains competitive and efficient in an increasingly digital world.

Essential Habit #5: Develop a long-term vision and set goals that align with the anticipated future of your industry

Lastly, the hallmark of a great leader is the ability to look beyond the horizon and chart a course towards a brighter future.

By setting long-term goals that align with your vision for the industry, you create a roadmap for success that keeps your team focused and motivated, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Thinking About the Future Isn’t Enough—You Have to Communicate Your Vision to the Team

Being future minded won’t do any good, however, if you’re not able to communicate what you know to your team.

I used to have a boss who was a former police officer and decided that business management was his actual calling—everyone else and I largely disagreed.

Communication is a two-way process, which includes buy-in, and he just didn’t have what it took. He was the type of manager who gave directives and expected immediate results without feedback. And he was also the type who didn’t allow you to voice your opinion.

His militant style of leadership made it very difficult to come to work, which was the ultimate reason for the high turnover rate in the company.

Most days, getting out of my car and making my way into the building was like walking to the gallows. In addition to his unwillingness to try new ideas or listen to opinions, he also didn’t like to train us, his assistant managers, on how to run various parts of the business. This proved to be very unfortunate when he had to suddenly step away on leave for a couple of weeks—nobody knew how to steer the ship!

There was no one left to take the wheel!

Any great leader knows that having a backup is paramount to being able to continue running the company seamlessly.

However, he was so afraid of us looking or being better than him that he kept things a secret, thinking it would make him look like the best. In reality, all it did was prove to the corporate executives that he was more of a dictator than a leader.

Eventually he took leave to deal with some personal affairs. Since none of us were properly trained to take his place, the business lost a ton of money. We simply didn’t know what he knew and couldn’t pick up the slack.

To ensure you’re doing your due diligence to communicate your vision of the future with the rest of your team, don’t forget these often-overlooked strategies:

Overlooked Strategy #1: Hold Regular Team Meetings to Align Vision and Action

To make sure your team fully grasps and shares in your vision of the future, regular team meetings are indispensable.

These gatherings aren’t just routine check-ins. They’re vital for syncing up the team’s efforts with your forward-looking goals. In these meetings, you can articulate your vision, discuss how current projects align with this vision, and collectively navigate any challenges.

This strategy keeps everyone informed and engaged with the future direction of the team, ensuring that your vision is not just understood but also acted upon.

Overlooked Strategy #2: Leverage Project Management Tools for Vision-Centric Task Management

Using project management tools is more than just about organization—it’s about keeping your team’s eyes on the prize.

These tools can help you map out how each task and project contributes to the broader vision of the future you’re steering towards. By clearly assigning tasks and tracking progress within the context of your future goals, your team can see how their day-to-day work is a step towards realizing that vision.

It’s a practical way to make your vision tangible and keep everyone aligned with it.

Overlooked Strategy #3: Foster a Culture of Open Communication to Refine and Realize Your Vision

Creating a culture where open and honest communication is encouraged is crucial for refining and achieving your vision.

When team members feel safe to express their ideas and concerns, it enriches your vision with diverse perspectives. This inclusive environment allows for a dynamic exchange of ideas where your vision can be challenged, improved, and better understood.

It ensures that your team is actively engaging with your vision and contributing to its evolution and realization.

It’s Time to Become a Doer

As I always say at the beginning of any class or seminar that I am teaching, we are all here because we refuse to stay idle.

We are a part of a very small population of the world called The Doers. We never plateau or stop sharpening our axes because all great leaders know that we must continue to learn, grow, and climb to be the very best that we can be.

If we are always anticipating change, we can rest assured that we are going to be prepared for whatever comes our way and will be the trusted advisors that our teams need and look up to.

“If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities.” —Maya Angelou