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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

The Other Side of Visionary Leadership

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Are you a visionary leader?

I listened to a phenomenal episode of Wisdom from the Top where Morten Hansen was interviewed about what attributes top performers have in common. This episode has so many phenomenal takeaways but one that stood out was around visionary leaders and the qualities that make them successful.

Typically we think about visionary leadership as a person who holds the vision for the company, and drives everyone to the common goal. Anticipating the trends and forecasting the next move. All of those are

correct. Some people do this more naturally than others and might find “futuristic” a top strength in the StrengthFinder Assessment, or if you are familiar with Lencioni’s work around Working Genius, they would trend towards “invention” or “wonder”. All of these unique qualities drive teams towards future success.

Here is another spin on the same idea. Hansen, a management consultant, and researcher looked at some of the most influential leaders and found that they not only were traditional visionaries but they also capitalized on others’ brilliance. They were continually collaborating, observing, asking questions, and harnessing ideas from other leaders.

Great leadership is tactfully piecing together the puzzle of brilliance rather than reinventing it once again.

As an example, Hansen cited Herb Kelleher, the former CEO of Southwest Airlines, consequentially, one of the few airlines who has consistently done well over the last 40 years. Kelleher was a traditional visionary but he also learned and observed from others, specifically Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA). PSA at the time was a small west coast airline that was short on cash so cut its turnaround time to 10 minutes, the average was

50 minutes. Kelleher harnessed that idea and integrated it into his own fleet. It was small changes that he learned from other airlines and industries which has made Southwest one of the most successful airlines.

Leaders have the responsibility of not only holding the vision but also networking, connecting with, and observing others’ great ideas and turning them into their team's future. It is you who holds the stated vision as well as the formulation of the next best thing.

Going at it alone is not required or expected. Tap into the wisdom of others, network with other greats in your field, and seek out mentors, coaches, and advisors who can light your fire, and introduce you to new and dynamic ways of thinking.

Become a dual- visionary, one who holds the vision and seeks out the next best thing by partnering with others and harnessing the expertise around you.

My Challenge to You:

  • How do you push yourself to think beyond the stated vision?

  • Who can you connect with to learn more and be challenged more deeply?

  • If being a visionary is not your natural unique talent, who can you partner with in an effort to capitalize on this skill?

  • Who would benefit from a leadership mastermind? How about forwarding the link? If you want great leaders it is important to offer opportunities to succeed. Thank you!

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