Be A Visionary Leader

Written by Ken Karr Posted in Blog

Be A Visionary Leader

Why should you be a visionary leader?

Here are two main reasons in my opinion:

First, if you do not know where you are going, you are not leading.  Or, as you may remember Yogi saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.”

Second, and here’s the gem, you cannot lead with passion to bring just any vision to reality.  It has to be yours. Own it!  Visualize, embrace, act with energy and commitment to achieve it.

Now, how do you become a visionary leader?

Many in business today are so in awe of well known visionary leaders, such as, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, and Bill Gates that they do not appreciate their own potential.  

To be successful and enjoy your profession, strive to be a visionary leader. To a few it comes naturally, to most it requires self-discipline and deeper thinking to break out of the daily management grind. 

Keep in mind the differences between management, leadership, and visionary leadership. Management is keeping you on track. Leadership is deciding what track to take. Visionary leadership is building that new, special, unique track that gets you to surprising levels of business excellence. 

Once your vision is clear, your quest to achieve it will need goals designed to get you there. I recall an executive describing personnel traits and behaviors that were needed to improve performance. There were many and most were worthwhile, but a vital element was a missing. How were these to be applied? Where was the team headed? How would they know if they were heading in the right direction and making progress? Goals and measures of success were lacking.

Without a clear vision, how can meaningful goals be established? Without goals how can progress be determined? Goals among businesses are very different just as those in games and sports. We have a great college basketball team here at the University of Virginia. They work well together, communicate effectively and seem to read each other’s minds. Now, put them on the football field. Different rules, different goals! As it is in business; no goals, no game.

Visionary leaders amaze and elate their customers and shareholders. Walt Disney’s “Imagineering” comes to mind. Start with imagining what can be done to multiply value to your customers. Buy into it wholeheartedly. Determine what you need to get there (people, processes, training, equipment), and passionately convey this to your team by word and, most importantly, personal actions and example.

Many use off-site retreats and strategic planning sessions to “get away” from the daily grind and allow visionary thinking.  This is a great way to get broad buy-in for visionary initiatives that can get the team pulling together in the same direction.  Be careful though.  If outcomes are proscribed, buy-in can suffer.  Make it a real team effort.

You should adapt this large and long visionary leadership view to a shorter personal view even if you are an individual contributor. You do not need to be a designated leader to be a visionary leader. Become good at seeing beyond the hectic daily office routines. Open your mind to visionary leadership. Contribute innovative ideas to improve work activities, ideas for new and improved products, marketing innovations, and more. You can be this person.

If you are an individual contributor, being a visionary leader won’t likely show up in your job description, but it is tremendously satisfying, exceptionally valuable to your teammates, and will get you noticed and valued. You are now a valued colleague with a very bright future.

How would you describe a visionary leader? Leave your thoughts and experiences in the comments. And whether leader is in your job title, or you are an individual contributor, partnering with a coach can help you to expand your thoughts past the daily grind and act as a visionary leader. Contact us today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to partner with us on your leadership journey.

About the Author

Ken Karr

Ken Karr

Ken is an executive leadership coach and expert in organizational and process design. His passion is seeing management and employees engage to set goals, implement them, measure success and continuously improve.

Ken has served clients worldwide as President of KRK Inc., Vice President of the Advance Reactor Corporation, IAEA expert, and an executive coach. read more.

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