How do you manage a forward thinking brain? – Leadership Skills

January 27, 2015

Antony Welfare - Thought Leader

Leadership Skills – The challenges of an early adopter mind-set

For many years I have been aware that I spend significant amounts of my “ thinking time” in the future and working on technology and ideas that are “just around the corner”. Recently, I have questioned how business leaders should manage team members who are forward thinking

My first example would be in 2005 when I started discussing M-Commerce – being obsessed with gadgets, coupled with a lifetime in Retail, meant that buying things from your phone was a no brainer. I spoke to my leaders (I was part of an international retailer at the time), who ignored the ideas and I quickly lost interest in the subject. Now M-Commerce is a reality and a significant part of a multi-channel business, and the company concerned is still significantly behind their competitors in this arena.

Another great example is the Multichannel world. Working in Dixons, at the time, I could never understand why the Ecommerce team where segregated from the store teams. Ecommerce was small, very small back then, but it was blatantly obvious (to me) that it would grow significantly. I questioned the mind-set a number of times and influenced some minor changes. The teams did grow and after a number of years they became more integrated. All of this took a long time – the company was missing opportunities continually. As time progressed I left the business and set up my own pure Ecommerce business.

Finally, and my latest thinking, regards Social Media and the next generation of Retailing using Social and technological changes. Over the last few years technology has developed significantly and has given us the ability to interact online whenever and wherever we want. Fast broadband and mobile devices means our social life has changed and become very different. We now use chat and social media website on the go and can search for information wherever we are. This new found power has led many business leaders to retreat from the world of Social Media. I know that Social media and Social commerce is here and it will only grow. Instead of letting the ideas fade away, I am leading the development of peoples understanding of Social Media and the benefits for you as a person and for business leaders.

Moving from Bricks and Mortar, to Multichannel to pure play Ecommerce, has been a massive learning journey and something that has given me unique insight, expertise, outlook and skills.

I believe there are many people, in the younger stages of their career, who like me, saw the bigger picture and the future picture. Every good leader must see the skills in their teams and nurture the talent of the forward thinkers. These people are the members of your team who will spot the future trends and help you make significant decisions for the future.

My advice is to embrace the people in your team that have future thinking. Give them the freedom to develop the thinking and keep them motivated when the world is questioning them. Of course, you must use common sense and keep the reality of the current situation relevant. If you are not comfortable with this, appoint a trusted member of your team to nurture these people and ask them to keep you informed.

Leadership Skills Advise: Businesses that adopt to the future will survive, businesses that stay still or refuse to move with the times will die – Simple fact of life!