Visioning takes practice; very few of us are born with this talent like Steve Jobs of Apple or Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Edie Weiner who wrote Future Think. How do we build these skills and really put them to work for our companies?
Much goes into becoming a true visionary. First, what is a visionary leader? Visionary leaders are able to envision situations and environments years beyond where they are today. These ideas are not transactional they are transformational. They can see, connect and drive a new view of the future to make it real with a team who will be inspired and strive to operationalize the vision as quickly as possible. Visionary leaders envision alternate realities and then craft a new superior reality.
The two areas where non-visionary born leaders most struggle are transformational sight and charisma around the vision connection.
Visionary leaders have:
- Foresight: Ask how can we make the world a better place? Then stretch that view to a new way of being not a new way of doing.
“Create your own future from your future, not from your past.” – Werner Erhard
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo
- Charisma: Enthusiasm to lead others to see and create their own possibilities in this new better place.
- Tenacity to consistently connect and drive: Even when the view gets fuzzy these leaders are optimistic and continuously connect others to future possibilities in that place while they are clearing the path to the vision.
“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”- Jack Welch
What is the difference between transformational and transactional views of the future?
- Transformational views can “lift an (entire) people out of their ordinary selves” (Woodrow Wilson). Transformational futures start with what the future can be with significantly less regard for what it is today. Steve Jobs saw a world where everyone had access to a computer.
- Transactional leaders see a shorter distance. They maximize their current state for a better future state, but it doesn’t dramatically change the future. We all learn these skills as managers and they are a critical foundation. Process improvement was born out of maximizing what we have today making it better.
I am often asked: How do you learn and develop transformational thinking?
It isn’t a skill you learn and apply, but more one you practice and open yourself up to over time. Take a break; find a place where you aren’t thinking of the present day stresses. Now daydreaming, firing up your imagination, being around personally inspiring people, things or places are all good starting points. Thinking about world trends, exploring those trends in relation to your industry, scrutinizing industry trends for what isn’t there, probing for what is needed but not available, collecting inspiring questions around what could be, creating stories around alternate futures are all more specific to your business transformation. The key to finding your transformational vision place is to get away from the day to day though process and allow yourself to be in that open space where new ideas will manifest themselves.
Charisma is defined as compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others.
Many people consider this as something they have to be, but what if we applied the definition of charisma to the idea or vision? Thinking about how a vision can have charisma is often times easier for those leaders without the charismatic gene. If you consider how others will see the vision and what would make it attractive and charming enough to create devotion you will find a way to connect those people to that vision.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine Saint-Exupery
When you read this quote can you feel the charisma of the endless immensity of the sea? Could you create a story around the immensity? Could you connect someone to feeling the salt in the air and the view of the immensity as a new reality? What is your vision’s “immensity of sea”?
In summary, we can develop the ability to be true visionaries with practice in thinking beyond what is first and then what could be someday. Visionary leaders will transform organizations to become more successful than any status quo or transactional environment. Others will rally around these leaders so they can be raised up beyond themselves and be part of the new future.
- The Strategist by Cythnia Montgomery
- Are your direct reports visionaries?, Gail Froelicher
At Kinetic Insights, our PathFinders are skilled in helping leaders unleash the greatness in themselves and in their organizations. Call or email us for a quick discussion that just might put you and your team on the path to significant change.
Gail A. Froelicher is Founder, CEO and PathFinder of Kinetic Insights, LLC. For over 11 years, Gail and her team of PathFinders have journeyed with their customers to forge successful paths in rapidly changing business environments.