Come from the future

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet.
- Theodore M. Hesburgh,
Former President Notre Dame

Managers often, quite unconsciously, allow team meetings and one-on-one conferences to focus excessively on the past.

But the constant refrain of how things used to be and why things were "easier back then" demoralizes the team. The team sits through unnecessarily long periods of time spent hashing out, venting, and reviewing breakdowns and mistakes.

This is done at the expense of the future. It is also done at the expense of optimism and morale and a sense of good, orderly direction.

A good motivator will not make the mistake of obsessive focus on the past. A good motivator will use the past as a springboard that immediately leads to a discussion of the future: "What can we learn from that mistake that will serve us in the future? And if this happens again, how might we handle it better?"

To a good motivator, the past really has only one purpose: to provide building material for creating the future. The past is not used as something to get hung upon, or an excuse for regret, placing blame, nostalgia, personal attacks, and having a defeated attitude. A leader knows that leadership means leading people into the future. Just as a scout leader leads scouts into the woods, a true leader leads team members into the future.

Your shift to better leadership might include learning to make an ever increasing percentage of your communication focus on the future: discussing your next week, planning your next month, designing your goals for next year, and looking at the opportunities that will be there two year from now. Be thorough and well-prepared when it comes to discussing the future. If the details are not always known, the commitments and vision and strategies are.

Unmotivational managers will unconsciously disown and spread fear about the future. They will say how unpredictable and dangerous the future is. They will exaggerate potential problems and stress the unpredictability of everything. They will attempt to come across as realists when, in fact, it's much more truthful to say that they simply haven't done their homework.

You'll be motivating others to the degree that you are a constant source of information and interesting communication about the future of the team.

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