Monday, February 17, 2014

Are you a visionary leader?

Today is President’s Day, and I’ll be honest with you: It probably won’t be the hardest day of work for me this year.

With school out, kids at home and most businesses closed, it will probably be a day that I juggle work tasks from the kitchen table and running after my toddler before he creates the next natural disaster in our house.

The meaning of President’s Day and its observation isn’t about three-day weekends or sales at our favorite retailers, however. It represents so much more. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were visionary leaders, with dreams, visions and goals much bigger than themselves. Their stories will never die and their passion will never be forgotten. While their hard work, struggles and sacrifices are beyond what we can probably imagine, their stories paint lighter pictures of men with dreams changing the world.

We’d all like to be visionaries in business wouldn’t we? The good news is being a visionary leader really isn’t as complex as it seems and doesn’t involve changing the world by being like Steve Jobs and creating a company like Apple.

Visionary leaders most of the time are able to innovate on things that are right in front them.  They are aware of the world around them and have proactive, not reactive, minds that allow them to plan and create solutions.

Visionary leaders are thinking constantly. They are watching, researching, gathering and analyzing information, and this allows them to move forward. As well as information, they rely on intuition in their decisions.

These leaders have courage and understand that risk is necessary to growth and success. Last of all, visionary leaders are inspirational. They are able to motivate their teams by creating cultures of vision and passion and goals for everyone to share. When it comes to selecting teammates, employees and partners they take special time and pay special attention.

Above all, visionary leaders never stop reinventing themselves, their ideas and visions. All of this comes very naturally and doesn’t take a lot of work because it is a part of who they are, personally and professionally.

Is there anything we can do to become more like visionary leaders? The simple answer to that is, where there’s a will there’s a way.

The TV show “Undercover Boss” offers great examples of executives showing visionary leadership based on input they receive from their employees. By the end of the show you may be an emotional wreck and ready for some chocolates, but it shows that visionary leadership isn’t terribly complex.

You don’t have to be George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Steve Jobs to be a visionary leader. It simply takes time, discipline and determination. It’s an everyday thing -- even President’s Day.