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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #147: How Does a Leader See the Future?

July 29, 2021
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #147: How Does a Leader See the Future?

A leader see’s more than others see, and they see it before others see. Today Perry and Chris talk about actions a leader can take to improve their ability to see the future so they can appropriately guide their business.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell, facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, vice-president with John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining. Just as a quick reminder, if you’d like the notes for today’s session, maybe you want to learn a little bit more about the 5 Levels of Leadership, or our 360 Degree content as we bring those inside organizations. Perry, myself, and some of our other executive and executive facilitators and coaches are on the road every day around the world, helping organizations with their leadership culture. If you want to learn more about that, don’t hesitate to visit

Well today’s topic, and I think this is a great topic for us as leaders. We don’t always know what it looks like coming out of the last 18 months, but I think it is something we always ought to be thinking about. And Perry’s title today is How Does a Leader See the Future? John teaches a leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees further than others see, and who sees before others do. Doesn’t happen by accident, I know I have personally had to work on it. Some are more naturally gifted than others. And so I’m looking forward to the topic today. What’s your thoughts behind this?

Perry Holley:    I got interested in myself and looking at coming out of the pandemic and people looking about where do we go from here, and thinking about John saying that about a leader sees more and sees . I just, it fascinated me and I think some people maybe have more of a natural strength in this area. I was looking at my strength finders assessment. I don’t have this, but they had a strength called futuristic and people that are exceptionally talented in a futuristic theme. It’s hard to say.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, it is.

Perry Holley:    They’re inspired by the future and what it could be. They energize others with their visions of the future. So you may know someone like this, but these folks are really the dreamers who see a vision of what it could be. I think that’d be a great way to be as a leader, but not everybody has that natural talent.

Chris Goede:     Yeah and as I mentioned, it’s something that I don’t have naturally and I’ve had to work at it. So let’s talk about those of us without the futuristic there as strength and, and how we can improve our abilities to be able to see over the horizon out in the future. You think about companies and all of us can think about companies either locally or maybe even internationally or domestically that you’ve seen that maybe haven’t done this so well, at least from our perspective, you think about Blockbuster. You think about Kodak, maybe where they didn’t see the future and other companies that maybe do, Uber would be one Airbnb, things like that, where they’re like man, how in the world did they think about a model like that that has now basically taken over the hotel business to some extent.

And so I think coming out of what we’ve all experienced as leaders in the last 18 months, it’s even more heightened and we need to be aware of when it comes to this. Now, what I like about it is that you gave us five things.

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Perry Holley:    I knew that would make you happy.

Chris Goede:     Yes. Five things that we can do to increase our ability to see the future. So let’s talk about these five.

Perry Holley:    Well, number one, as you mentioned those that didn’t do so well with seeing the future is I find that leaders that are good at seeing the future, that they’re not over impressed with the status quo, both of the companies you mentioned Kodak or Blockbuster were both industry leaders and really had blue skies ahead of them until they didn’t and things changed. And I often smile when I think about, I use the term status quo because I heard John say this, that, “Status quo is Latin for the mess we’re currently in.” And when I think about that, about if we become over impressed with just the way things are, it’s pretty good right now. And actually business is pretty good right now. I have a number of leaders that say, “Why would I change anything, we’re doing really good right now.” Because it’s going to change.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, it’s going to change. And by the way, bad habits tend to be developed in good times.

Perry Holley:    That’s right.

Chris Goede:     So just keep that in mind. I also heard another quote from, I think Greg Cagle, one of our facilitators, I’ve mentioned this before, where he says, “Hey, if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance a whole lot less.” And it was like at first, what? I was like, “Oh man, you’re exactly right.” As leaders, we don’t want our organizations or our leadership to be irrelevant. And so as leaders, we have to be the change agents. We talk about this, we’ve got to think about how… Not change for just the sake of change, but thinking about the business in itself. And so if there was no need for change and we just continued to do the same thing day in and day out, there would probably be no role for us as leaders.

Perry Holley:    No.

Chris Goede:     And so we got to make sure that we have the ability to go through that change, and we’re not stuck in the same mess that we’ve started. Number two, this is read, reflect, and then read. You need to be well informed about your industry, the markets you serve, your clients and their needs in the future. And it’s not enough just to kind of read the trade journals or industry newsletters, you need to reflect on what you are reading and then determine how does that really affect your business and how it serves the clients.

I love John’s model of the ACT, where you, what is it I need to apply? What is it I need to change? What is it that I need to teach? And I think as you’re learning as leaders, if you just take that simple little model, which with A is how do I need to apply what I’m reading to our business? Maybe what is it that your clients could apply from what you’re learning and then you’d be able to teach that to them. What is it that, for C, what is it that I need to change? And then T what is it that I need to teach? Great, a great little kind of acronym to work off of while you’re reading and reflecting, and then reading.

Perry Holley:    Yeah. I can’t express enough that you need to be… Who are the thought leaders in your space? Are you developing your own thought leadership in your space, and how do you do that by keeping up with the current publications that you must absolutely be reading how people are thinking, what are some ideas? And I love that we… I just put on there reflect to me was I read a lot, just got in a conversation yesterday about I’ve really kind of slowed down on how much I’m reading so that I can reflect and apply what I am reading and finding some cool tools to help me put those into place in my life. So, same thing as a leader, you’re reading about your industry, what’s going on, got to reflect on that.

Number three, I don’t think you can say this enough, but how is technology changing and how could those changes affect you and your business and how you do things? And can it help you, can it hurt you? Think about Netflix coming into play on top of that with the technology and how we stream, and that was not even thought of at one point, but we’ve got a lot with automation, artificial intelligence that are happening. And I think it just pays a lot to stay informed on new and exciting changes in technology because all of us could be replaced one day. And if we’re not figuring out how we exist with these technologies, maybe even add to our how we go to market.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. It’s always changing, especially in the technology space. All of us have a little gadget on our hip or in our pocket, or on our hand right now called an iPhone. Well, not all iPhones. You might have another, but you have a phone with you. And it’s like, as soon as you get the newest hottest one, you walk out the next day, you see a commercial for an updated technology, and that’s happening in your business world as well. One of the things I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review the other day, and I thought this was interesting. They called it the change power, and that is knowing the capacity that your organization has for change. And so that is your change power quotient in essence. And they kind of broke it down, what this looks like. And I think we got to understand, not only do we need to change internal systems and processes, but this brings up a really good point, which is your organization, your people are also probably having to go through technology change, make sure that’s part of what they call the change power inside your organization.

Number four, what new government regulations are being discussed, maybe implemented that could affect your market? And some of us, and I know even me immediately go well, that doesn’t affect what we do. But it’s an interesting point here because I absolutely think that it does. And we need to be as leaders paying attention to what’s going on in governments and how they’re being led and talk about it both in the US and outside-

Perry Holley:    Oh yeah.

Chris Goede:     The US. And I think if we’re aware of that with the proper lens of how that affects our business, then I think that would do us a lot of justice as leaders. And so even if in our line of business, what if we had a meeting one day as a leadership team and spent 30 minutes, maybe 45 minutes and just said, hey, as an example, how could climate change legislation affect what we do?

It’d be interesting just to see what comes out of that meeting. I would never have thought of that ahead of kind of this lesson we’re going through today, but we need to be paying attention to what’s going on with different government regulations and how that drastically, or maybe not drastically affects our business, maybe even affects some of our clients, and then how we could then serve them. Going back to what you mentioned. Number two, with the read, reflect, and read. Maybe you’re able to combine those two and not only be able to add value to your organization through change, but also maybe your clients or the customers that you serve.

Perry Holley:    Yeah that was a lot of what we went through in a pandemic times and some of John’s teaching. But I think as a future thinking leader, the question we absolutely need to be asking is with these technology advancements or with these government regulations, or with this climate change initiatives, with these things that are happening, what does this make possible now?Chris Goede:     That’s a good way to put it.

Perry Holley:    I think if 2020 taught us anything it was that when one door closes, we need to see what other doors may now be accessible or open to us. So don’t just look at how’s it going to affect us positively or negatively, but what now becomes possible? And as a future thinking leader, I’m looking for ways to adapt my business into these new ways.

Chris Goede:     Yeah, that’s good.

Perry Holley:    Number five and the last one is listen to what your network is talking about. This could be as simple as listening to LinkedIn group discussions or more sophisticated groups like industry groups that you may be a member of. But I like associating myself with industry groups or technology groups, or just listening and seeing even some of my closest friends, when we get together about what are they seeing in their businesses? They may not even be related, but I liked how somebody was… So I got one friend that’s, they do more in environmental type things. And they’re really nervous about some of the legislation coming down about Green New Deals and things. Well, that may not affect me, but it was interesting hearing how he was thinking about it to affect him. So your network can be a great source of information about how others are seeing things.

Chris Goede:     Well, and it goes back to the ability as a leader to influence people through asking the right questions. I love the fact that you’re having conversations with your network, with your group, and you’re going a little bit further than kind of small talk, and you’re trying to learn what are the future trends that’s going on in their industry? We do the same thing with some of our customers, and we try to be an open ear and what’s going on when we go to dinner on nights before, or follow up, or maybe even putting together a round table.

And just even being able to facilitate that or the network of connections that we might have of, for us specifically, we were in so many different industries to where maybe one industry could help serve another industry with the legislation that’s coming down and being able to, just as a value add, serve our customers that way. Just begin to open your mind outside of things that are different than just what you’re doing. When you do that, you’ll understand that on the forefront of every leader’s mind are those changes, and they’re not talking about it if you don’t go and ask the right questions, you’ll just do a bunch of small talk and not be able to add value. But if you want be able to add value to leaders and you want to be able to help mold and shape the cultures of those organizations, begin having conversations like that and figuring out how we can serve or how you can serve your customers or clients.

Perry Holley:    I love that talking to customers, what are they doing? You just gave me another one to think through, what changed over the past or the last couple of years, the pandemic and things, how did it change how we went to market, but thinking about what could the next changes be based on what people learned from there? You think, well, we’re all going to be working at home or are we’re going to be divided to how we work. And so what does that mean for our clients? Where are customers going to be? Are they going to want new solutions, different ways? And really opening my eyes up to all the different dynamics of what’s going on around us is amazing. Why don’t you wrap it up for us?

Chris Goede:     Yeah. I think now more than ever companies need to really measure, understand, and boost their capacity for change. Say, how do you do that? The measuring part, it’s hard. But I think if you got into a room with your leadership team or other peers that you’d be able to kind of figure that out, I think understanding change is, you need to be talking about it and researching it, what is your change power? Great article, look that up on Harvard Business Review. And I think that we’ve got to be aware of the pressure that comes on our people as we go through change, and we understand their capacity, but we cannot allow that to keep us from seeing the future. It makes me think about John’s very simple but profound Law of the Lid on the 21 Irrefutable Laws, we talk about that a lot.

Perry teaches and facilitates on that content. And we as leaders will be the lid on our growth, our team’s growth, and the organization’s potential. And part of that is making sure that as leaders, we are comfortable with change, we are looking for change, not just for change, but we’re driving that. And then we’re developing our people and their capacity to accept more change. Because to your point, whether it’s government regulated, whether it’s technology, whether it’s maybe even just something in your specific line of industry, it will always be changing. And if we don’t want to be irrelevant, we better be willing to accept the change.

Perry Holley:    That’s right. Very good. Thank you, Chris. And as a reminder, if you’d like to get the learner guide for today’s episode, learn more about the 5 Levels or any of the other offerings, you can do that at You can also leave a comment or a question for us there. We always enjoy hearing from you. And we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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