Visionary leadership is not exclusive to the C-suite.
Whether overseeing a business, division, department, or team, you can look beyond the here and now to the future, its opportunities, and impacts in your current seat.
As a visionary leader, you see around corners, develop strategies and plans, and navigate the way forward. You do not take a slow adoption, wait-and-see approach to change – unless it is business prudent.
Visionary Leader Qualities
If you’ve read the timeless book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (and I highly recommend it as a quick read), then you know the characters Scurry and Sniff.
These characters have admirable leadership traits – far-seeing, inquisitive, intuitive, ambitious, courageous, motivating, observant, conscious of slight environmental changes, persistent, and strategic thinkers.
While fictional characters, they illustrate qualities to embrace as a leader.
Visionary leaders are always on the ready, noticing subtle shifts in situations and preparing early for change. They do not wait for change to fully materialize before taking action – because they know that early adoption is better than late acceptance. They exercise more control over the situation and navigate themselves and their teams to acceptable outcomes.
7 Tips to Elevate Visionary Leadership in Your Current Seat
Tip 1: Break Away.
Pause, scan, and assess the environment periodically. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of managing your business function.
Tip 2: Be Forward-thinking and Proactive.
Explore the horizons. Discern patterns and trends in the industry and business, proactively detecting changes and opportunities in the internal and external environments. Determine how to use that information to advance the organization and your team.
Tip 3: Visualize.
Picture the best for the business and your team. Create a vision of success – being clear about long-term goals, not short-term gains—plan for the seen and unseen. Be willing to adapt and modify strategies to align with the long-term vision.
Tip 4: Practice Inclusion.
You lead a team, and you are likely developing your successor. Get them involved. Invite your team to contribute their ideas, creativity, and willingness to challenge the status quo. Demonstrate trust in them and respect for their capabilities. Model what you value in leadership behaviors, mentor others, and multiply your effect – as you positively influence the culture.
Tip 5: Leverage Your Network.
Fashion a relational network that includes various hierarchical levels, colleagues from across the organization, and appropriate external contacts. Informal networks may have relevant information that your formal channels have not yet released. Early knowledge can help you and your team prepare and effectively navigate change. Actively engage with your network early and often – giving and receiving
Tip 6: Be Resilient.
Don’t give up or give in too quickly when encountering setbacks, challenges, and resistance. Clarity about the expected impact can fuel you and your team to keep moving forward, even if it requires slight shifts.
Tip 7: Continuously Learn.
Nurture your team’s and your professional growth and development. Remain open to feedback and, importantly, feedforward on what you can do more, better, or differently as a visionary leader.
Call to Action
Your team will not be left behind – and neither will you when you embrace visionary leadership.
Which of the seven tips might you work on over the next three months to differentiate your leadership?
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