Leadership is often related to this one term that almost solely necessitates the existence of leadership: vision. A vision, by definition, relates to the state of the future, but leadership is an activity, an ability or quality that does not carry a time factor and hence it is always supposed to be current. A leader’s job is to integrate the vision of the future into the present activities while also understanding and learning through the conditions and experiences of the past. In that regard, it is extremely vital for a leader to engage in present moment thinking, in its purest sense at that, in order to just lead, no matter the direction.
What present moment thinking is and why it is important. There is a phenomenon called information overload, as popularised by Alvin Toffler in his book Future Shock. Simply speaking, too much information can tamper the efficiency and productivity in the present moment. When time frames are considered, a leader must ask himself, what time period has the least amount of information? Obviously, it is the present. Past is a package, future is a projection, and the present is the only time frame in which there are a specific number of variables to work with, whether it is the number of people in the team, the set of problems or tasks, the emotional states, the conflict, etc. Present moment thinking involves emotional states, which a leader must be very aware of, in himself/herself and in his team. It is in the present moment that an idea can truly produce results, because the inspiration an idea gives too is an emotion that will fade away with time. Present moment thinking is the best way to work with out-of-the-box ideas. As Wilfred Bion says, “Discard your memory; discard the future tense of your desire; forget them both, both what you knew and what you wantto leave space for a new idea.” (as cited in Simpson & French 2006)
Implications. In the absolute sense, there is not much in the present moment, which is why it is a leader’s job to fill this moment with all its potential in the form of activity. Personally, I enjoy thinking in the present moment and see profound leadership values in this mode of thinking because, in the present moment, I can relate to a team member or a client, a friend or a foe and can think with a clear head without worrying about the future or the direction in which the situation is moving.
Simpson, P. French, R. 2006. Think in the present moment; Some implications for leadership practice. CA: Sage Publications.