Here’s a fundamental question for all entrepreneurs. Are you a visionary? Being a visionary and having a corporate vision are two different things, so take care not to confuse the two. For a company, a non-profit or any other organization to thrive and succeed over a long period of time, visionary leadership is paramount. And unfortunately, many companies stagnate and die when the visionary leader moves on for whatever reason. That’s why it’s crucial for a company to continuously develop visionaries across generations that will help to sustain the organization in the future.
It’s not hard to think about individuals who exemplify the term “visionary.” Steve Jobs comes to my mind before anyone else. He was a rebel and an unconventional thinker who wasn’t afraid to take risks. Similarly, Bill Gates was a visionary who became the richest man in the world as a result of his ability to understand and shape the future. What comes to mind when you hear these names – Henry Ford, Wilbur and Orville Wright, John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Sam Walton, Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg? Each was a phenomenal innovator. Each had an uncanny sense of where the world was going. Each had dreams but was also a doer.
Being a visionary is partially innate and partially learned. So, what can we do to develop our visionary leadership skills? How curious are you? Do you read everything you can get your hands on? Visionaries are expansive readers and are curious about everything. Curiosity stimulates the imagination and helps bring forth new ideas manifesting in a high degree of creativity. How persevering are you? The next time you’re ready to throw in the towel remember that visionaries have a stick-to-it attitude. They are highly resilient and believe they can solve any problem. Visionaries love discussion and debate. Some may see this as confrontation but it really isn’t. Instead, a visionary likes to listen to differing points of view even when it gets a bit lively.
What other ways can we model visionary behavior? Do you embrace change or are you more comfortable living with doing things the same way? Visionaries are change agents. They like to teach and are focused on doing the right thing. Integrity ranks high on their list of values. Do you have high expectations for your team? Sometimes the line between high vs. unreasonable expectations can blur a bit. But don’t expect a visionary to set a low bar. Visionaries tend to be eternal optimists and can’t see a glass half empty – it’s always half full. And visionaries are some of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet. Finally, visionaries don’t live in the details – they are quintessential delegators.
A visionary has a knack for looking at a collection of data and telling the future. He sees things that others don’t and isn’t the least bit concerned if his ideas are pooh-poohed. In fact, he’ll work hard to persuade others to buy into what he believes because he has a supreme degree of self-confidence.
By emulating their behaviors, traits and tendencies, we too can become visionaries. Our value to our organization increases exponentially when we provide visionary leadership.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.