Transformational Leadership and/as Foresight

The transformational leader motivates creative questions and solutions. The foresight professional asks how alternative futures could happen.

In The Art and Science of Leadership, which we read for an MBA leadership seminar, Nahavandi describes the three elements of Transformational Leadership as: charisma and inspiration to implement vision, intellectual stimulation, and individual consideration.

This 2nd element, Intellectual Stimulation, is an area foresight does exceptionally well. Intellectual stimulation in the transformation leadership context is about motivating to solve problems creatively, to “question existing values and assumptions and search for new answers.”

Futurists (Foresight Professionals) scrutinize assumptions and encourage the seeking of innovative explanations and solutions. We do less of telling the future and more of building mental and organizational models to question and to innovate. I learned during the Association of Professional Futurists’ “Global Futures Festival” that a good metric for the success or usefulness of a foresight project is how well it challenged mental assumptions. This culture of foresight is ready for constant change as we go beyond the near term forecast which is measured by the accuracy of the prediction.

Futurists address obstacles in this questioning manner: we seek to understand the current state of affairs, scan for indications of the future, identify baseline and alternative futures, envision to open the range of possibilities and develop preferred futures, design prototypes to achieve the vision, and enable the generation of options to alternative futures.

A transformational leader empowers creative problem solvers who question. Finding and selecting a future path comes from creative questions. Getting beyond the assumed, and less likely, future takes searching for answers that do not rely so heavily upon current assumptions. It takes leadership to inspire the carrying out of vision.

This matters to me as I combine leadership and futures studies in my Foresight and my MBA studies. This matters to organizations because transformational leadership bridges inspiration and results with an empowered creative team, allowing for adaption to externalities and making required adjustments.

A leader equipped with foresight methods and skills and an organization with a culture of foresight is effective in the face of change.

  -Joe Murphy, Librarian, Foresight Leader

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