“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”–Warren Bennis
When you think of a visionary leader, you may think of someone like Martin Luther King Jr., who peacefully led black people in protest against racial discrimination/segregation, or Mahatma Gandhi, who revolted nonviolently against the British rule in India. Both men saw a new vision for their people and set out to achieve it- and they did.
Given the greatness of both men, you may be thinking that visionary leadership is rare and is certainly not something that the average person can possess. But, visionary leadership doesn’t have to be world-changing. You may already have visionary leadership and not even know it.
So, what is visionary leadership?? A visionary leader is a person who sees the potential for how the world should be and they are able to make a plan and lead others in the execution of the plan. These two abilities combined–the ability to see the potential for change coupled with the ability to lead others creates a visionary leader.
There are three main characteristics which are found across the board in all visionary leaders. These characteristics are:
- Risk-Taking– Change is never risk-free. Martin Luther King Jr. lost his life fighting for change. The battle against racial segregation was not won with one march. It took time and came with a lot of risk. Thank goodness the rest of us don’t have to put our lives on the line. Suffice it to say–-Visionary leadership is all about change and change has risks.
- Listening-A visionary leader hears the voices of their team members. They have to tune out the naysayers; but they will listen and take feedback from those trusted and close to them. A visionary that doesn’t listen to what people are saying is just an “idea guy” and won’t succeed.
- Takes Responsibility– A visionary leader takes responsibility for their actions and vision because they are aware that their ideas are different and have significant risk. This individual takes the responsibility for ensuring that all the critical pieces are in place to move the vision forward. Remember, having a vision is much like having a child You would do anything and sacrifice everything for your child. However, when you need help with your child you solicit help and usually you have to pay for these services. A vision is the same: you cannot expect your team to sacrifice like you are willing to and they have to be compensated and treated fairly in this process. Remember, it’s your vision.
Visionary leaders set goals and devise a plan to work towards the said goal. This helps the leader stay focused on the priorities. A visionary leader looks at the status quo and devises a plan to make the situation different, instead of just making it better. After all, Mahatma Gandhi didn’t want to just make the relationship between India and Great Britain better. He set out to end that relationship. And that vision made all the difference for India.
Is there anything in your organization which you desire to make different?? That’s a vision…so now make a plan and rally the support of like minded individuals to help champion your vision!! See you too can be a visionary leader.
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