The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Peter Drucker

Seize tomorrow – if you are reading this article as the leader of your organization continue to do so – this is your job and should be your passion. If you are being consumed by the moment – the urgent - Carpe Diem – seize today - you may be a great manager but your leadership role is being neglected or ignored. Leadership is about Vision – the future – tomorrow!

From a recent Dale Dauten column (The Corporate Curmudgeon - we learn, “However, a smoothly functioning operation is a victory for management, not leadership. Looking down and around – making sure there’s parking and that the toilets flush and that there’s someone to take customers’ money – that’s management. Being the place where people want to be, being different while being the same – that is leadership. It’s the leader’s job to climb to the top of the mountain with binoculars – to see the future and get there.”

Peter Drucker observed the same phenomenon but simply used different words to describe the process. He said, “Efficient is doing things right (Management)” and “Effective is doing the right things (Leadership).” Drucker also commented – “One of the biggest mistakes I have made during my career was coining the term profit center, around 1945. The truth is that inside the business, there are only cost centers. The only profit center is a customer whose check hasn’t bounced.”

If my interpretation is correct – Drucker recognized that “profit center” was a management moment and knowing, embracing, and creating an intimacy with the customer and the marketplace was the role of the leader.

In May of 1961, John F. Kennedy announced the “goal” (Vision) “of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth before the decade was out.” Obviously this wasn’t a Carpe Diem experience – this was pure Carpe Mañana. This “tomorrow” was 9 years out. His managers, I’m sure from their perspective of that day could only shake their heads in disbelief. As a fact, the science did not exist in May of 1961 to do what Kennedy had just stated we would do.

I suspect in the back offices of the White House some of Kennedy’s best managers wanted to “Carpe (seize) the Net” and carry JFK off for treatment since obviously he was off of his meds… If that day Kennedy had looked down instead of looking out to the horizon of the earth (not just DC), we would not have our position of dominance in the world, Tang, Velcro, and probably the Internet. Remember before the grand adventure of our Space Program – we used TV antennae and “tin foil on rabbit ears” to capture radio and television signals.

What if JFK had organized a committee to create a Vision for the future, would consensus have been developed for a trip to the moon? What if a management process had commenced without a clearly articulated Vision from a committed leader – would this process have evolved us to the moon? Or as Dale Dauten writes, “The manager makes sure that customers get what they pay for, whereas the true leader – Carpe Mañana – makes sure that customers someday will pay for what they don’t yet know they’re going to want!" Lead on – lead on – lead on!

Copyright - Square One Consulting / Michael G. Manes (March 2010)

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