A colleague recently remarked: “As the leader, I have one foot in the here and now and another foot in the future. My job is to figure out how to marry the two.”
It is an insightful observation and an ongoing challenge to balance what are often competing demands. There is urgency in the present but opportunity in the long-term. There are many others who are working in the daily operations and it can be lonely thinking about what lies ahead. The present is much more concrete and tangible while the future is replete with unknowns and ambiguity.
As a leader, you need to create your own system for juggling this continual tension. Carve out time on your calendar for planning and reflection. Attend professional development opportunities that focus on strategy rather than tactics. Have tools that trigger you for events months in advance. Cultivate a network that challenges your thinking and pushes you to think beyond the day-to-day.
Leading in the present is only half the role. Your organization and team count on you to take that other step to lead them into the future as well.