Foresight, or prescience, is a better than average guess about what is going to happen in the future.
Developing this ability is key to becoming a successful servant leader, Robert Greenleaf writes in The Servant as Leader, his brilliant short book about leadership.
It begins by adopting a specific mindset regarding what is happening now. We must constantly compare “what is happening in the current moment with a series of projections made in the past and at the same time projecting future events—with diminishing certainty as projected time runs out into the indefinite future,” writes Robert.
“Intuition is a feel for patterns, the ability to generalize based on what has happened previously,” he tells us.
Servant leaders know when to bet on their intuition, all the while understanding we are betting on percentages.
The next challenge is knowing when to make a decision.
Because on important decisions, we rarely have 100% of the information needed.
Naturally, we want to wait to get more information or work harder to get it. If we wait too long, however, the moment may pass or we have a different problem and have to start all over.
“This is the terrible dilemma of the hesitant decision maker,” Robert shares. “If, on a practical decision in the world of affairs, you are waiting for all of the information for a good decision, it never comes,” Robert shares.
“One is the anxiety of holding the decision until as much information as possible is in,” Robert states. “The other is the anxiety of making the decision when there really isn’t enough information— which, on critical decisions, is usually the case.
All of this is complicated by pressures building up from those who ‘want an answer.’”
The art of leadership rests, in part, Robert tells us, on our ability to bridge the gap by intuition.
Reflection: How do I make decisions currently when I don’t have all of the information?
Action: Journal about a recent decision. How did I approach the situation? How did I feel about the decision?