“Good leaders have vision and inspire others to help them turn vision into reality. Great leaders have vision, share vision, and inspire others to create their own.” –Roy Bennett 1
An individual’s motivation to go out of the way and do something comes from the purpose that the act satisfies. Humans can make sacrifices or adjustments of any magnitude if they see how their hardship is contributing to the bigger picture. Visionary leaders are able to give this exact purpose to individuals and groups of individuals. They move people towards shared dreams. Such leaders become the change catalyst by drawing people into the vision and engaging them with the future. They articulate the vision for the team and set them free to innovate and experiment. Such leaders lend a grand meaning to otherwise mundane workday. Inspiration together with self-confidence, self-awareness, transparency, and empathy are the key competencies that drive a Visionary leader.
Visionary leaders inspire people around them. They can excite the team members about the new direction that they are about to embark upon but doesn’t tell them how they will get there. They leave the team to figure out a common way to get there. The leader must be seen as a competent person to set the new vision and lead the team towards it. The leader can also influence others to get the buy-in towards this new direction without overpowering them. It only works when the leader believes in the vision and his excitement is clearly visible.
When to use and when not to use
This style is most effective when a new vision is being set or there is a drastic change required from the existing way of working. The visionary leaders set the direction when the future view is hazy at best. Situations where company/department must be turned around to recover from a downward spiral, negative rut or looking for an extraordinary leap from the status quo. The visionary leader’s focus is always on helping the individuals see the long-term goals and how they will contribute to it individually or as a group.
In situations where the set of individuals working with the leader are more competent or know more about the organization, this style will not work. Leader is unable to create the sense of credibility to be able to positively influence the individuals. Also, the style can get over bearing and give a sense of being pompous when it is overplayed in such situations.
How does it impact on company culture and employee morale, you ask?
Visionary leadership style has the maximum positive impact on company’s culture and employee morale. Although, it is the case only when used in correct situations. A visionary leader is able to generate positive emotions such as sense of purpose, dedication, pride, loyalty, and clarity of thought. First and foremost, visionary leaders are able to align the entire organization in a common direction and make sure that organization’s energy is being effectively utilized. Moreover, this style also gives a high sense of ownership to the employees as there is a strong buy-in from everyone. Visionary leaders focus a lot on proper communication to make sure the vision reaches the last mile in the organization. To create the buy-in, these leaders also focus a lot on hearing what various corners of the organization have to say.
Moreover, these leaders do not focus on telling the individuals what to do or how to do. They let the teams figure out the journey on their own. This makes ideation process stronger and boosts innovation in the organization. Since most situations when this style is applicable calls for setting up new direction or dramatically changing direction, innovation helps immensely.
Go ahead, try it out
Visionary leadership style is the most powerful tool you can have in your arsenal. History has seen several visionary leaders move masses towards a common goal and achieve it, while individuals made huge personal sacrifices willingly. Go ahead and develop your visionary style and make that change happen that you want to see in your organization. A word of caution though. Be credible, empathetic, and most importantly believe in that vision yourself before you demand the same of others.