Byron's Babbles

Keep Your Fork: Leadership Anticipation

Posted in Coaching, Education, Education Reform, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on December 24, 2013


As we have been taking part in different family and work traditions during this holiday season I am reminded how important the feeling of anticipation is. I tweeted a few moments ago that the greatest words ever said by a mother are, “Keep your forks.” We all know what that means – DESSERT IS ON THE WAY! Then we begin to anticipate what it will be; her famous Mince Meat Pie, Cheese Cake, Carrot Cake, or some other delicacy that only moms know how to make. Think about how important the feeling of anticipation really is.

Today, Christmas Eve, is probably the greatest example of anticipation there is. Children around the world are spending the day anticipating that Santa Claus will arrive during the night and leave toys. The anticipation is even greater for those kids who sat on Santa’s lap and told him what they wanted him to bring. Those kids are now in anticipation those gifts will arrive.

My son and I did our annual Christmas shopping excursion last night. We shop for mom and then go to Buffalo Wild Wings. While we were eating and watching the Indiana Pacers win, my son, Heath, made the comment, “Dad, I look forward to this every year!” I asked why and he said, “it’s fun to do this with you and we do the same thing every year.” In fact, I would add we get the same thing every year – a new Vera Bradley backpack purse! This story even has more to do with anticipation. The sales person at Merle Norman was the same one that has helped us buy mom’s purse for the last three years. In fact we always bring her an Aunt Millie’s pretzel and she wraps all our presents from other stores too. Are we true helpless guys, or what? When we walked in she said, “I knew you would be here!” She anticipated our arrival, and we did not let her down!

So how do we use anticipation in other areas such as education and leadership? When I was teaching I loved to use anticipation guides. I now recommend these to the teachers I serve. With an anticipation guide the students are introduced to the concept of previewing and guided in completing a prepared anticipation guide for a particular topic or reading. Students are then given an opportunity to complete a portion of the anticipation guide independently. In the days that follow, students work in both teacher-guided and student-facilitated groups to extend their use of the previewing strategy with other resources and texts. Finally, students discuss as a class how using anticipation guides helped them better understand the readings, resources, and ultimately the subject at hand.

As a leader, change represents an opportunity and it must be anticipated and prepared for. Foresight and change anticipation is a hallmark of effective leadership. Technology, radical innovations, new business models, globalization, demography, consumer demands, education reform, politics, and choices all contribute to making today’s society one of accelerating change. The drivers of change are numerous and complex, and their impact varies from one sector to another. The way change affects your company depends largely on the capacity of key actors to anticipate and prepare for such an eventuality. There is big difference between anticipating and guessing. Anticipation means expecting, being aware of something in advance, to regard it as possible. The ability to anticipate is one of the key ingredients of efficient speed in leadership.

As we celebrate Christmas today and tomorrow, allow me to bring Christ into my post leave you with a couple of other thoughts on anticipation and anticipating:

Some of you are too busy dreaming about where God is taking you next to appreciate how far He has taken you recently. Stop for a moment and celebrate.

Others of you are so busy celebrating what God has done in your life that you’ve yet to realize it’s just a taste of what He still has to do in you and through you. Stop for a moment and anticipate.

Merry Christmas! May all the great things you are anticipating come to pass!