Leaders are continually facing situations of constant change and adaptation. Creating and implementing a vision helps them determine ways to overcome associated roadblocks, hindrances and employee resistance.
As employees and leaders alike are typically subjected to a broad range of external and internal pressures, leaders are faced with the challenge of creating an appropriate or “right” vision, then persuading various categories of employees—from avid supporters to procrastinators and laggards—to accept the vision and work toward its fulfillment.
A carefully crafted leadership vision provides the means to generate new and more flexible ways of working and thinking as a group. It enables leaders to set a specific organizational course of direction, then pursue it by selecting, equipping and training employees focused on the mission and its objectives to carry it out.
Defining, selling and emphasizing the vision motivates employees to willingly and enthusiastically expend personal, emotional, and physical energy in its pursuit. Specific organizational goals and objectives are accepted and embraced because employees have “bought in” to the vision.
A leader achieves this needed influence by displaying a servant attitude and modest stance while conveying a “prophetic and profound vision of the future.” The vision and its associated direction are presented in clear terms that resonate with employee beliefs and values.
Once this takes place, employees begin to understand and interpret “the future” in the context of present actions and steps.
During the process, the leader presents his or her vision in contrast to the present status and state of the organization. Through the use of critical thinking skills, insight, intuition, active listening and positive discourse, the leader is able to facilitate and draw out employee opinions and beliefs.
This process allows employees to move from ambiguity toward clarity of understanding, which helps them to develop shared insights that result in influencing them to see the future state of the organization as a desirable condition worth committing to.
The leader begins to move the vision forward in an ethical and productive way, which implies seeking out what constitutes “the greater good” in regard to his or her employees.
During this process the leader constantly emphasizes how and why the employees will be better off as a result of open and positive leadership interaction.
The leader is then able to achieve higher levels of trust and commitment to the vision as he or she seeks personal growth, renewal, and increased stamina through these positive leader-employee interactions.
A Visionary Leader Is Set Apart from Others
Visionary leaders are in a different class than traditional mission-focused leaders. They seem to sense the unknowable, which includes seeing others’ unique talents and abilities. These tend to influence the decisions the leader makes, and help him or her shape a better plan for the future.
Leaders with vision are outstanding “conceptualizers,” nurturing their own and others’ abilities to dream and think beyond the ordinary and day-to-day limitations. They motivate across generational boundaries to enable employee groups to learn and embrace change.
As individual work environments often directly affect employee capabilities, visionary leaders know they can and should affect employee perceptions as to their own personal capabilities. An outcome of this process is that the leader can more fully prepare and build employee followers to accomplish what they are capable of and beyond.
The building up of employee followers results in the leader knowing their capabilities to the point where enhanced trust empowers them to accomplish necessary organizational tasks, assignments and projects.
Visionary Leaders Are Motivators
Leaders with vision are extremely capable of motivating and instilling a sense of vision “buy-in,” desire, commitment and determination in their employees.
They have the innate ability to engage others in their direction. They also tend to be masters of determining their employees’ true capacities, which can be used to help seek out and overcome optimal challenges.
Inspiring the vision implies rallying employees to acknowledge a common purpose and path of direction in its behalf. Employees become motivated to behave in particular, positive ways. This true sense of motivation does not spring from external rewards or threats, but internally from individual desires of job and personal satisfaction.
Intrinsic motivation results in generating a sense of pleasure while interacting with others as well as while engaged in necessary jobs, projects and tasks.
Becoming a More Visionary Leader
Visionary leaders tend to transcend organizational expectations as well as the goals they set for themselves and their employees.
Leaders can become more forward-thinking, craft an inspiring vision and make it a reality by adhering to the following tips and strategies:
- Generate movement by focusing on what is in the best interests of their employees from a long-term standpoint.
- Motivate employees into action and commitment by satisfying their basic human needs.
- Talk in terms of dreams and possibilities that work to inspire the vision.
- Think in terms of a broader organizational view, as well as why it is important to forge a new territory of organizational direction.
- Remain farsighted while working in shorter steps that focus on generating small successful outcomes.
- Work to inspire employees to do things without actually sitting on top of them with a checklist in hand.
- Integrate employee ideas to foster ownership in the vision.
- Maintain the ability to see objectively and in an unbiased manner.
- Do the right thing in all circumstances and situations.
- Keep up with future trends and how they will effect the organization.
- Make consistent and effective contributions to work tasks and team projects.
- Continually inspire employee followers through speeches and pep talks that get them to work toward the vision.
Excerpt: Creating & Sustaining a Strong Vision: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)