Companies that are building future-focused leadership models for the digital age use Future FocusTM, a FREE online assessment and educational tool, to gain data-driven insight about how their leaders approach the future.
There are five Future Focus Mindsets on the leadership spectrum. These "types," "styles," or "orientations" help leaders improve their organization's readiness for the future. Your mindset describes your lasting direction of thought, feeling, and inclination to behave in certain, predictable ways.
By understanding your own Future Focus Orientation, you can gain greater self-awareness about your instinctive or default ways of thinking about taking risks, innovation, strategic thinking and planning, and collaborating with other leaders.
Future Focus Leadership Spectrum TM
The five leadership orientations on the Future Focus Leadership Spectrum are:
FUTURIST | INNOVATOR | OPPORTUNIST | OBSERVER | HISTORIAN
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Getting to know FUTURISTS
Futurists are the most future-focused leaders on the Future Focus Leadership Spectrum. Futurists have a keen sense of what the future looks like, and what trends will unfold. They’re dreamers and visionaries.
Many Futurists have a strong sense of intuition or a “gut” feeling about what the future holds. Others rely on past data, historical patterns, or predictive analytics to forecast what’s to come. Futurist leaders have a high tolerance for risk. Futurist leaders think less about how things are and more about how things could be. They have a gift for casting futuristic visions for others who cannot see what the future holds.
Futurists often muse about the future and are usually early adopters of the latest technologies and trends. This group of forward-thinking, risk-takers are rare relative to Innovators, Opportunists, Observers, and Historians. It’s estimated that true Futurists make up less than 2.5% of the Future-Focused Leadership Spectrum.
Getting to know INNOVATORS
Innovators are highly future-focused leaders. Innovators are smart and creative people. They are builders, entrepreneurs, and inventors.
Innovators have a strong vision for what the future holds and are among the first to turn their vision into a reality. Like Futurists, Innovators have a high tolerance for risk. However, given their desire to build, adopt, and “be first to market,” they may take a more practical approach to leading than their Futurist thought partners.
Innovators may ask, “but how will that work?,” not because they don’t believe a future-focused idea is possible, but because they want to understand the details well enough to help put it into motion and turn vision into a reality. It is estimated that Innovators make up a less than 15% of the Future Focused Leadership Spectrum.
Getting to know OPPORTUNISTS
Opportunists want to get in the game before the masses. Leaders with this future-focused mindset adopt a “wait and see” attitude. They are often waiting to catch the next big wave of opportunity. Opportunists crave data, proof-of-concept, and evidence that an idea will work. Once an Opportunist is convinced that an opportunity exists, they will rally the herd and bring others along for the ride.
Opportunists want to get in the game before the masses. Leaders with this future-focused mindset adopt a “wait and see” attitude. Opportunists crave data, proof-of-concept, and evidence that an idea will work. Once an Opportunist is convinced that an opportunity exists, they will rally the herd and bring others along for the ride.
Opportunists are more risk averse than Innovators and Futurists, but not so much so that they want to miss out an opportunity. Opportunists are likely to support innovation and risk taking, but their passion is more measured and prudent. Opportunists love tests, beta versions, and pilots. Highly analytical Opportunists want data, lots of data, in order to make an informed decision about the risks that they are willing to take.
Opportunists love to partner with Innovators, but may be wary of energetic Futurists who have big dreams, but lack evidence. It’s estimated that Opportunists make up about a third (34%) of the Future-Focused Leadership Spectrum.
Getting to know OBSERVERS
Observers, despite what the name suggests, are not passive about the future. Observers are active spectators of unfolding trends. Observers enjoy watching a trend unfold.
Leaders with an Observers mindset are highly risk averse and are okay with missing out on ”ground floor” growth opportunities. Observers prefer stability, predictability, and security. They have an even stronger “wait and see” attitude than their Opportunist counterparts.
What might appear to be skepticism or resistance from an Observer might actually be interest and potential support for a new initiative or innovation; however, in order to win over an Observer they will need lots of knowledge, understanding, and influencing before they come along. Observers want a “sure bet” and security. In doing so, Observers often avoid the costs and benefit from lessons learned from their more Future-Focused counterparts. It’s estimated that Observers account for about a third (34%) of the Future-Focused Leadership Spectrum.
Getting to know HISTORIANS
Historians derive wisdom from past experiences and patterns. They approach the future through the lens of the past. They are the most conservative and risk averse type of future-focused leader.
Historians can be highly skeptical and will ask very difficult questions about feasibility, cost, and potential risks. Some Historians may even be perceived as “anti-future” or might say things like, “Here we go again, we’ve tried this before.”
Historians bring tremendous insight and context to future-focused leadership teams. First, they ask hard questions. They often bring historical perspective and discernment that others lack, and they can help balance teams that are drawn to “bright and shiny” new ideas. While Historians might not be your next big idea generator, they can add tremendous value in preventing disastrous decisions. It’s estimated that Historians make up about 16% of the Future-Focused Leadership Spectrum.
Download the Future Focus Mindset white paper. This report summarizes the multi-year research study behind the Future Focus mindset assessment.
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I'm Chris Groscurth. I'm a leadership consultant, coach, and writer.
I started Leadership 4iR to educate and empower leaders with information and tools to prepare their organizations for Fourth Industrial Revolution Mega Trends.
I have been helping leaders lead change and Future-Focus (TM) their organizations for the past 15 years across industries like healthcare, banking, education, manufacturing, and hospitality. I want to share what I've learned with you!