Updated: Dec 31, 2018
In a previous pontification we contrasted the skills of a leader and manager. Now I want to focus on the attributes of a visionary leader. I have a long list but will mention just a few. Dr. Edwin Land, inventor of instant photography; Dr. Martin Luther, a believer in social equality; Oprah Winfrey, a renowned business personality; Saint Teresa, a minister to the poor, sick and needy; Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, electronic information pioneers.
Your turn. Who are some of the visionary leaders that come to mind?
A visionary leader sees things as they can be, not as they are. A vision is meaningless if it isn’t reflected in action. You must have knowledge, imagination, passion, and resolve to achieve long-term goals. As a visionary leader, you focus on inspiring your team to attain desired outcomes. You solicit and encourage others to join you on your journey. You realize that the imagination of others is an important as your imagination. When Jim Kling and I facilitated vision-creating sessions with top executives of firms, there was an abundance of ideas from the participants. Using brainstorming and force-field analysis techniques the group was able to synthesize those varying ideas into a pithy vision statement embracing the key points.
What do we look for in a visionary leader? Here are some characteristics:
Excellent Communicator: Articulate your dreams and desired outcomes. Clarify them to your team. Then listen to their feedback. Use your team to leverage ideas and concepts. Set and reach milestones with their involvement. Establish rapport to help your team members meet their personal goals.
Strategic Planner: Practice imagining how things could be. You plan to make the best decisions. Develop a realistic action plan that reflects your strategic vision. Your decisions should be designed to move you toward your ultimate vision. Think innovations rather than status quo.
Charismatic Leader: Not everyone is naturally charismatic; however, you can develop charisma. It helps to be recognized as someone with that “personal magic” that encourages loyalty from others.
Primary Organizer: It is up to you to shape your organization to support your vision. Initially, you will want to establish a framework for directing and conducting meetings.
Risk-taker: Make it a habit to ask, “why not”? It’s your job to overcome obstacles. You must be willing to take measured intelligent risks if you believe in your vision. Don’t accept things as they are – turn the world upside down.
Visionaries are creative people that take the initiative with the appropriate action. A visionary leader steps out of the shadows into the light. Shine your light today.