True leaders avoid the temptation to focus on short-term results to the exclusion of long-term impacts. In other words, in each decision they make they consider the long-term implications just as much as (if not more than) the short-term benefits.
For example, if a particular course of action will greatly increase profits during the next quarter (which might delight shareholders and executive management)—and yet that same course of action will also lead to major customer satisfaction issues (and likely reduced revenue) in the long-term, a true leader will know it best to come up with other options for increasing short-term profits.
Shortsightedness (something I often call “chartsmanship” because of how this disease causes some leaders to focus on numbers to the exclusion of quality) is an affliction that can make a leader appear to be making wise and profitable decisions in the short term, while their lack of focus on the future causes long-term harm to the sustainability of the organization. True leaders do not get caught in this trap, because they are not motivated by immediate gratification and pats-on-the-back. Instead, they focus on making decisions that will develop a sustainable organization with opportunities for a bright future (and not just a glowing next quarter).
True leaders maintain an awareness of the “big picture” as spelled out in their team’s / division’s / organization’s / corporation’s long-term goals, objectives, and business strategies. Ask any true leader why they decided on their current “short-term” course of action. and they’ll tell you how it fits into the overall long-term plan. Actually, you probably don’t need to ask them–because true leaders will generally communicate how and why their decisions fit into the broader, long-term strategy as a means of getting everyone on board.
The net is: True leaders aren’t focused on shortsighted actions or short-term fixes, but on providing “true leadership” that will take their organizations through the next quarter, the next year, and beyond.