What does a visionary leader do that most other leaders don’t? Do I have to be a visionary leader to create breakthrough products and services? Why do I need to be visionary? These are some of the questions I hear from my clients. Over the past 25 years, I’ve worked with many of the most visionary leaders in their markets. From doctors who create new cancer treatments, cardiovascular testing, and robotic surgeries, to organizations like Rubbermaid, who redefined new product innovation, Rockwell Automation, who is changing how manufacturing systems, robotics, and artificial intelligence help produce better products and services to Steve Jobs, who changed the structure of how many industries worked. So how do you apply what I learned in working with these extraordinary leaders to your organization?
Let’s start with a quick quiz to jump start your thinking and see if you’re a visionary.
- Are you always open to new people, possibilities, and ideas?
- Do you notice trends but you aren’t a slave to following them?
- Do you look at your industry or market on a regular basis? Do you focus your efforts on innovating and creating?
- Do you read publications and trade journals from outside your industry?
- Do you look to the future and say, “what if?” Do you explore the past with an inquisitive eye, not dwelling on past failures?
- Do you spend time alone so that you can dream or create?
- Are you optimistic about the future?
- Do you cultivate the courage to be willing act on your ideas?
- Are you actively sharing your ideas with others?
- Are you hanging out with other creative people?
- Do you have people around you who will help you work through potential opportunities and challenges?
- Are you open to change and see it as an opportunity for growth?
Now add up the number of questions you said yes to and see how many you have. If you said yes more than ten times, you’re a visionary. If you said yes between 7-9 times, you could be a visionary, but you’re not completely convinced that’s a good thing. Less than six yeses, you aren’t taking advantage of all the opportunities in your business, and you might be leaving money on the table. Less than three yeses and you’re not in the right role as a senior leader. In today’s global markets, you are struggling to keep up with changes and challenges. It is hard for your many stakeholders to leverage their strengths and capabilities because they are unable to clearly see your vision for your organization and markets. I’ve done this exercise with many of my clients. Most have said it’s the best 90 minute exercise they’ve ever gone through. It helps these leaders begin creating their own vision for their organizations.
Now that we’ve identified your visionary capabilities, take time and copy down your yeses and leave space between each question to share why you believe you are this way. You should write down a time when it worked for you and how it impacted your life and business.
When you look at your no answers, take time to write why you answered no. It doesn’t have to be a long explanation, but focus on what the no might really mean. For example, a no on question 10 might mean you don’t believe there are creative people in your market, in your role, or in your industry.
We need to determine if you are not a visionary because you don’t see yourself in this way. You may have been told that being a visionary is the fastest way to fail in your current role. The alternative is that you are very creative and are a visionary, but fail to act on your ideas.
The good news is that anyone can become more visionary in their career. Next week, we will give you several tools and tactics to help you become more visionary in your current role. We will share some ideas on why certain groups of executives and entrepreneurs are not more visionary and the reasons why you should work on developing this key executive skill over the next several months. See you then.