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What is the true nature of visionary leadership? This is future thinking and being able to signpost what followers can expect. It uses horizon scanning and finds power in strong belief. You can use vision as a way to define action, strategy, new ideas. It’s about evolving and cultivating your imagination to bring about change.

Visionary leadership takes considerable courage. It requires risk and clear direction. As in nature, for growth sometimes we need more sun, i.e. looking ahead to the future; sometimes we need more water, i.e. flowing forward with a practical path. 

Visionary leadership takes a clear vision and connects this purpose so well within an organisation that there is tremendous unity and energy. This shared intention can produce greater productivity, as well as infectious creativity, drawing people and resources through the law of attraction. In turn, all these synchronicities bring incredible possibilities.

Your vision: whether doing something new in the world, inventing a new technology, creating a new network, or seeing things differently, has already started. It is your unique contribution and expression of talent. What is visionary leadership? It is the connection of who you are, why you’re here, where you’re from and where you’re going with all that is around you, including: your family, friends, colleagues and environment. Everything is interconnected, which is why all that surrounds you can affect wellbeing, creativity, motivation and learning. Not just for you, but for those you lead.

Why visionary leadership is so important

In a world with rapid population growth, political instability, technological expansion and environmental challenges, the need to be ethical, fair and resource-use conscious has become ever-more urgent. In tur, critical and complex problems have arisen, with difficult personal and business questions to be answered. How do good values co-exist with profitability? How can you be sustainable yet grow?

Visionary leadership is increasingly important in order to shape the future and operate with social wellbeing and purpose. It involves releasing old behaviour and developing new possibilities with an impetus that comes from an insight far beyond daily routine. It challenges the status quo and exposes vulnerability, yet also delivers something purposeful and worthwhile. Done correctly it can lead communities of people to effect immensely positive change.

Qualities of visionary leadership

By observing some of the attributes of some of the great visionary leaders of past and present, it is entirely possible to identify at least 5 key qualities of visionary leadership.

Collaborative

Self-awareness will recognise that you have strengths and also weaknesses. This leads to a need to partner and complement with others to achieve the greater good. Results therefore need to yield for the collective and trustworthiness evoked through good character and competence.

Imaginative

Visionary leaders use their imagination to see beyond the current impossible and seek out a future from whatever is already there. After all, just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  For some, imagination might seem like a mad dream, for a visionary it’s a way of conceptualising a completely different future from the current reality.

Laissez-faire leadership

The laissez-faire style is one where the decision outcome is literally ‘a grey area’. Everyone has complete autonomy and the freedom to add their input and realise new ideas and thinking. Because of this, this style requires a highly competent and confident workforce to stay on track.

Inspirational

Imagining new possibilities and effectively communicating to others a clear strategic direction, enables others to see the bigger picture and conceive and implement the steps towards the desired future.

Bold

By becoming a great narrator and challenging the status quo in an inspiring and articulate way, a visionary leader is able to create a meaning to the pathway that resonates in the hearts and minds of others.

Open-minded

This attribute reflects the ability to recognise any significant ‘rights’ or ‘wrongs’ in the way things currently are and accept that the pathway forward needs to change – such as attitudes, current behaviour, or work life. Nothing is fixed. 

Are you a visionary leader?

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Visionary leadership therefore has to start from within and look to the whole self – body, mind and spirit.  To know and stick to the path requires great commitment, determination, steadfastness and mindfulness.  It also requires the competence and dexterity to raise the consciousness and guide those around you, particularly when ‘fear of the unknown’ can get in the way.

A great example of visionary leadership is Nelson Mandela. Leader of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, Mandela served 30 years in prison yet continued his campaign with great determination and focus. He led his country to become a more equal society and became the first democratically elected President of South Africa. Another case is Henry Ford. Ford conceived the Ford Motor Company with no money but by negotiating clever supplier deals on credit. Operating the business as ‘not for profit, the company grew to become a global giant.

How to become a visionary leader

At HotHouse we believe the best leaders work from the inside out, are open and inspired from the environment around them, and are comfortable with sharing what inspires them. As an alternative to the traditional courses on: what is visionary leadership? We offer a creative leadership programme that explores our relationship with the natural world and how our experiences with nature relate to our emotional landscape: awe, empathy, courage and compassion.