Every team leader wants to think of themselves as a positive force for fueling success. Unfortunately, all too often, people get stuck in doing what they have always done and thinking that is enough. If you keep your blinders on and don’t look around to see what else might be possible, you are doing your company and yourself a disservice. And you are not a “visionary leader.”
What are the traits of a visionary leader? Here are some things to consider and ask yourself if you have these characteristics…
1. Encourage, support, and promote the people who report to you, including volunteers. In doing so, you help them aspire to greater success and they will become much more engaged and productive—and boost your own reputation as a leader. This applies to those team members who may not always agree with you. And please remember to publicly recognize the accomplishments of your team and individual members. “Psychic income” is more important than many realize.
2. Be open and honest about decisions and mistakes. No one is perfect and you are human just like everyone else. You might be expected to have more expertise in your field, but no one is infallible. Don’t justify bad decisions or results.
Be positive in working to correct and prevent errors. Solicit ideas from your team. This is not a sign of weakness, but a show of inclusiveness.
3. Listen and consider. This is one of the most important abilities – and probably the most difficult to really do well. Your team members may have very different ideas about your team’s goals and how to achieve them. Do not discourage these ideas or dwell on the past. Saying “that never worked before” doesn’t take into account that things have changed and are continuing to change very rapidly. This not only includes personnel, but technology, the direction of your entire organization, and more. Telling people their ideas won’t work can be demotivating and non-productive. Look to see if there are elements of the idea that can be put into practice, or if the idea can be tweaked to create a more successful outcome.
4. Look ahead and think about how things are changing. Just because your programs and projects may have been successful last year does not mean you just keep repeating the same actions without review, analysis, and a constant search for potential improvements. Consider this—remember that there were companies who were highly successful with their catalog sales 50+ years ago. However, they did not look ahead or take new technology into account, and now business from catalog sales is practically non-existent, while new companies became the masters of the “electronic catalog”. These are companies that could have easily moved into online selling and fulfillment but failed to do so until another company passed them by.
5. Who are your customers? What do they want? And how can you serve them better? These are three questions that “visionary leaders” should ask themselves on a regular basis. If your customers call repeatedly and ask for something you don’t provide, do you just ignore them? You would be surprised at how many organizations do just that.
6. Watch and learn from your competition—their successes and their mistakes. There are some leaders that don’t take advantage of this and have the “not invented here” mentality. This means that if someone else is doing something successfully, we can’t be like them. Are you constantly reviewing your industries existing and evolving “Best Practices”?
7. Be creative and bold. Everyone likes to think they are, but usually we don’t take the time. This includes staffing, pricing, delivery, restructuring and more. What would this entail? What are the benefits and downsides? What would it take to make the necessary changes—and over what time frame? If you aspire to be “visionary” you will periodically ask yourself these questions and be brave enough to make changes.
Whatever you do, remember that in making decisions, you will not be able to please everyone all the time. Sometimes what is best for your employees is not best for your company’s bottom line and vice versa. Are you seeking to improve your “Triple Bottom Line” (Profit, People, Planet)? Do you know your company’s Vision and Mission Statements? Do your team members understand and buy into the organizations Vision Statement? They are crafted to help guide you and your team. There will always be fans as well as detractors. At the end of the day, you need to honestly assess if you “did the right thing,” and can remain positive going forward.
Make 2024 the year your “Vision” and “Visionary Leadership” take you and your team to the next level, and that you will build on your success this year for many years to come!