A clear and powerful vision leads the leader. A great leader establishes a firm mental attachment to the ‘possibility of what might be’ and sinks his or her heart and soul into realizing it. Having a clear vision ‘points the way’ to where a team, a department, or a company will be progressing in the future. Lacking the same path under a visionary leader may have dire consequences. A famous quote from The Bible states, “Where there is no vision the people perish”.
Vision is fueled by passion. It is passion that fires one’s resolve to hold the mental picture tenaciously through the shifting tides of life. To truly nurture a vision it is necessary to adjust one’s thoughts to give the vision priority. The burning desire to imagine things the way a person wants them to be, enables a true leader to accommodate and sacrifice for the good of the dream.
The future of a leader’s vision rests with the one who has created it. This is an awesome responsibility and tests endurance and resiliency. At a time in history when taking responsibility is extremely rare, the visionary leader must be prepared to ‘swim against the current’ and shoulder the weight of realizing a vision into existence.
A great leader resists deflation in the face of discouragements and set-backs but is driven rather by an internal fire that will not bow to external forces. A clear vision fires one’s resolve to hold the mental picture tenaciously, with unwavering devotion. A visionary leader will ‘step up to the plate’ again and again. The flame will continue to burn even though the player may occasionally forfeit a game. You might lose a game here and there, but the vision doesn’t die.
The visionary leader refrains from grumbling, complaining and blaming. Losses may hurt, but when knocked down, a true leader gets back up, having learned from the experience, and proceeds to look for other strategies.
Harvard Business Review cites ‘having a clear vision’ as one of the top five leadership attributes that motivates the troops to follow. If the vision is clear there is a stronger possibility others will be infected by it, get enthused, and come on board. The visionary leader actively seeks to generate interest among others because the vision cannot be realized alone.
The true visionary has the capacity to hope. John Gardiner in his book Morale, notes that the hopeful leader does not get paralyzed by perfectionism, which ultimately leads to cynicism and despair. Cynical people, says Gardiner, have a self indulgent game going where they believe that society seeks perfection and will settle for nothing less. They often become the arm chair scorners of ordinary women and men who are driven to make things better. The visionary leader continues to hope despite life’s imperfections. So here are some things you can do.
- Keep your vision alive no matter what. The hopeful mind eventually sees what it visualizes.
- Focus on the possibilities and eliminate the problems from your mind. Possibilities like verdant foliage will stifle the weeds of negativity and produce a bountiful harvest.
- Surround yourself with a small group of ardent believers who are ready to support you and ‘midwife’ your vision into existence. There is no substitute for personal champions when foraging through the wild underbrush of a new idea, looking for a methodology to give it flight.
- Equip yourself to lead people effectively. Without people, you will not very likely realize your vision. Take the time to learn and navigate through inter-personal difficulties, always seeking to build trust in order to keep you in the driver’s seat as you ‘point the way’ to others. Don’t ‘dance around’ the people issues, go through them.
- Stay in tune with yourself. Visions that are born from within need to be fed and watered by a gardener that is truly grounded. Develop daily disciplines that keep you planted firmly. This will help your vision to stay alive. Don’t let it die.
- Live in hope. Leaders should always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Don’t get lost by dwelling on the past. Instead, have a coherent plan that looks toward a hopeful future. If you always think negatively then your leadership has no hope.
Powerful leaders have powerful visions. Whenever great achievements have regenerated cultures, societies, communities or workplaces, they have come about because someone has had the capacity to imagine and to hope. Margaret Meade renowned anthropologist, author and scholar said, “Never believe that a few caring women and men cannot change the world, for indeed that’s all that ever has”. Having a vision is the ability to imagine and to hope. Great leaders and visionary leaders spend their lives protecting this.