Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Using the past to plan the future

I said earlier that in order to develop good foresight, you also have to develop other key servant leadership characteristics, specifically empathy, listening and awareness. These three characteristics help you to assess what has happened in the past and what is happening in the present, so you can accurately predict what will happen in the future.

Listening. Listen to your employees. Listen to what they like and don't like. Why did the project last year fail? Because the team didn't feel motivated to be successful. Listening to your team and their thoughts helps you predict how they will react to the next goal. Whether that potential reaction is negative or positive doesn't necessarily matter here -- the point is knowing the reaction, so that you can work toward making it positive by addressing concerns ahead of time.

Empathy. If you know how your employees feel, then you will better plan for their success. If you understand their needs, their desires and their goals, both within and outside of the office, you are better equipped to put together a plan that incorporates those needs, encourages their successes and helps them reach their goals while helping you reach yours. When your employees see the benefits they can reap from reaching the goal, they are more motivated to reach it with you.

Awareness. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is important, as is understanding what your team is capable of doing and what tasks will require outside resources. If you fail to acknowledge a gap in your skill level, you will run into problems reaching your goal. Accurately seeing yourself and your company for what it is, capitalizing on the strengths and shoring up the weaknesses, will make reaching your goal far more feasible.

Prepare yourself with these three skills. Learn to gauge the road ahead and prepare for the potential roadblocks. The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.

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