Future consequences: Don't fall prey to tunnel vision

Focusing on present problems through effective strategies and decision-making should be a leader's ultimate goal


Leaders face the challenge of planning for the future and determining which strategies are most effective in producing positive outcomes. Now, leaders are faced with increased responsibility and demands placed upon them from societal members. In this research assignment, I will discuss problems that leaders face through balancing their personal responsibility, overall demands, and how their current vision should align with future goals.

Leadership roles have shifted from uni-dimensional to multi-dimensional, requiring them to multi-task while problems occur as they are simultaneously balancing other duties. Increased responsibility in the leadership realm has led to increased conflicts interorganizationally and intraorganizationally. 

These conflicts stem from focusing on the present instead of being open-minded to future possible problems and strategies aimed to reduce conflict, also known as ‘tunnel vision.’ While tunnel vision is often seen as an indication of stable mental focus by leaders in the public safety realm, it can reduce concentration on future needs of an organization.

A proactive approach is needed for organizational effectiveness through transformational leadership and the goal of reduced conflict. One such problem that exists in current administrations and organizations is the always present staffing conflict.

Leaders, when restructuring an agency, seek to employ individuals with experience related to the specific operations of an organization. Leaders must not succumb to the thought process of tunnel-vision, but rather expand their thoughts and ideas to include possible problems that staffing might come in contact with. 

For example, a leader wanting to staff his department must not look to the present for options, but rather seek to explore future consequences on his or her organization. The need for staffing might not meet the requirement of the proposed budget for the current year. In this example, leaders must propose a current budget as well as forecasting budgets for the future in order to fulfill the needs of the present and the future. Without proper staffing for the present, leaders will often face the consequence of decreased production, decrease communication, and a decreased vision that is shared by the leader-member exchange. 

Another common problem is pressure from community members. This is a great example of external pressures that can decrease leadership effectiveness, especially if leader strategies are not focused on current needs and problems proposed by communities. Leaders have the choice to either to take action on community problems or to ignore requests for change.

Through effective communication, leaders must first tackle present issues demanded by the public to make necessary changes to improving future needs of the organization. One such quality of transformational leadership, encompassing a vision, is important for the increased effectiveness of the future without neglecting the needs of the present organizational environment. 

Through idealized influence (one of four major scales measured by the MLQ tool), leaders are able to guide subordinates and pay particular attention to the needs of the communities and address individual concerns for improvement. According to Pounder (2008), “the leader provides a vision and a sense of mission, expresses confidence in the vision, instills pride, gains respect and trust, and increases optimism.  The leader excites subordinates and inspires their complete with in him or her” (p. 3). 

While leaders are pressured from many aspects of society, this increased responsibility placed upon them should not detract from focusing on current and future needs.  Leaders must have qualities that allow them to share ideas with their subordinates through open mindedness, an interest in the organization, willingness to meet the demands of now and the future, and to have the ultimate vision that is shared through their personal ambitions as well as the ambitions of their followers. 

Leaders, when balancing their increased responsibility through the demands of others, must not be overwhelmed by future consequences; rather focusing on present problems through effective strategies and decision-making should be their ultimate goal. Proactive responsibility and action should be taken through careful consideration of possible conflicts within the organization and the ways leaders can effectively increase communication and strategies aimed at addressing the needs of today versus the needs of the future. 

Reference

Pounder, J. S. (2008). Transformational Leadership:  Practicing What We Teach in the Management Classroom. Journal of Education for Business, 84, 2-6. 

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