Imaginative Leadership – What would it look like if it was fixed?

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” (Albert Einstein)

Take the biggest challenge you are facing and apply some imagination to it – what would it look like if it was fixed? Imaging the end result, imagine the result, the way things would be if you had overcome the challenge, solved the problem, fixed the issue.

Too seldom do we apply imagination in business – business issues are dealt with scientifically with every practitioner (internal and external) presenting their tried and tested (scientific) approach, model, template or framework. We desire too often to be presented with a set of tick boxes that we can complete to overcome our problems or implement something to take us forward. What we lack is not just the ability to imagine but also the desire to do so – many times because our mental models, our business mindsets do not see the value of imagining in moving us forward.

The future may be uncertain but it is not unimaginable – did not everything that exists now not once only live in the mind of its creator. The future exists today only in the minds of those who dare to imagine it – and it is those who dare to imagine that tend to lead others into that future. These “imaginative leaders” pave the way for everyone else to follow. The paths they forge into the future depend in large part on whether they imagine the future negatively (risk and dangerous) or positively (full of opportunity to be grasped). The organisations that these leaders build are “flavoured” by their approach to the future.

Leaders who build the future do so because they answer the question, “what would it look like if it was fixed?” They exercise their imaginations in designing a future that (for them) works – a future that is built around their particular solution to the challenges that they face, a solution that addresses the issues and solved the problems we face today. Imaginative leadership is more art than science and presupposes that the future is not always a linear extension of the past – what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow – or rather that the fact that “it” worked yesterday does not necessarily mean that “it” will be the best way for “it” to be done in the future. The Imaginative Leader believes that the present is improvable – that the present is not perfect and can be “done” better (and better, and better). These improvements are also not, in the mind of the Imaginative Leader”, linear – the future and the past are not joined in a straight line. Rather the future leaps and bounds forward from the past through decisions and actions taken in the present based on the imaginings (dreams) of the Imaginative Leader.

Sleeping is not a prerequisite for dreaming to the Imaginative Leader – rather their existence is a continual reaching into the imagined (dreamed) future and pulling it into the present. The identity of the Imaginative Leader is not based on their past, what they “have done”, it is based on their future, what they “can do”. They do not look backwards (only) they look forwards – they hold the past and the future in a dynamic tension, the present is the birthing place for their ideas and dreams. They take their ideas, the things dreamed up in their heads and make them a reality

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: