Visionary leaders inspire greatness in their teams and the people around them. They take risks, fail and then keep trying.
Walt Disney was a visionary and he said in true Disney style, ‘if you can dream it, you can do it!’
COVID and the changing climates and markets around us mean we as business leaders need to make some changes. We need to adapt to our current challenges; adjust the way we lead our teams and remember that change is scary for everyone.
What is a visionary leader?
Before diving into the qualities of visionary leadership, let’s give it a definition.
A leader influences the direction and the behaviour of the team. This influence often comes from the fact that the person is charismatic, trustworthy, confident and skilled in the area in which they are involved. All of these traits are good, of course, but a visionary leader does so much more.
Visionary leaders can see exactly where they want to go and are emotionally connected to where they want to be. They help the people around them see with distinct clarity that same vision and evoke that same emotional connection to that vision. If you can do these things, you can become a visionary leader.
How can you develop visionary leadership?
See the value in new ideas
We should always be open to learning each day. An important trait of visionary leadership is the ability and desire to be open to new ideas, no matter the source. To develop this ability, think about these questions:
- Are people in your organisation comfortable coming to you with new ideas?
- Do you inspire creative thinking?
- Is this the workplace culture you lead?
If the answer is no, is it time to encourage people to speak up more? Allowing your staff to show off their creative thinking beyond their normal roles might pay off in a big way. Your new product or avenue could come from somewhere you never expected!
Make sure you’re happy with failure
Visionary leaders allow people to make mistakes.
This is essential if you want to support an atmosphere in which your team feels encouraged to think outside the box. If you are encouraging people to offer input, to be creative, and to have great ideas, you must be willing to see an idea fail. Use failure as a learning moment for the entire team without judgment or shame toward anyone.
Of course, there are some failures that aren’t acceptable. If the ideas are rushed, there was chaos in the planning and carelessness in the execution, that isn’t right and needs addressing.
But when failures happen after well-thought-out plans and ideas, celebrate them, knowing it’s a stepping-stone to your greater success in the long-term.
Visionary Leaders will look for the best thinking, not the safest. The most creative solutions, not the most cautious.
Give credit where it’s due
To develop visionary leadership, give credit to others for their contribution while deflecting the glory from yourself. This practice evokes admiration, dedication and commitment from the people who work with you, and it will gain their trust and support, which is necessary to become a visionary leader.
You must recognise the hard work of everyone on your team as often as possible. You cannot afford to go a long time without patting your team on the back for their dedication. Let them know you notice and appreciate the work they are doing as they are doing it. Start celebrating the small accomplishments, not just the major ones.
Communicate the vision with your team
Sometimes the vision is so large, and the end goal seems so far off that your team members may get side-tracked, discouraged, and possibly lose motivation along the way.
Visionary leaders keep everyone on track, focused and motivated by empowering employees with the knowledge of the steps they’re taking while continually measuring progress and rewarding accomplishments.
Make sure you have the right team
It does not matter how focused you are on the vision or how much you can inspire your people. If you don’t have the RIGHT team, it’s not going to work.
You need to ask yourself, “Can my team reach the vision?”
As you begin this process, there are several questions you need to ask yourself about your team members:
- Can they see the vision?
- Are they aligned with the vision?
- Do they fear change or are they ready to take it on?
- Are they motivated to take action?
- What are their personal motivations and do they fit with your organisation’s needs?
- Are their goals, both professional and personal, consistent with achieving your organisation’s goals?
If your team is already with you and ready to go all the way, you’ve got something great. If not, then you may need to make some changes.
Are there any disadvantages to visionary leadership?
There are a few things to be careful of when developing visionary leadership.
- One is that if you develop visionary leaders within your organisation, you may lose sight of the smaller day-to-day operations of the business.
- Additionally, you may become so obsessed with the long-term vision on an emotional level, that this could affect your decision making. Read our chapter on the dangers of emotional decision-making to find out more.
- If you, as the business owner, only focus on the company vision, you may lose emphasis on your personal vision – why you started the business in the first place. Read this article about balancing your company and personal visions to help run a successful business.
Too much emphasis on any leadership style in the wrong situation can cause problems so it is important to assess the situation before leading in a particular way. However, being a visionary leader is important to help manage your people and instil in them the same excitement and vision you have for the business. This helps the whole company feel more motivated, leading to a happy and fulfilled working environment.
Are you ready for your leadership style to be challenged?
If you’re looking for an impartial sounding board who will challenge and open your mind about your leadership style, you’re in the right place. Our peer advisory boards give you the opportunity to meet with other local business owners to discuss any type of issue you may face in your business. Not only does it make you a better leader, but you can have the assurance you are making the right decisions for your business.
Interested? Find out more by contacting us.