What does it mean to be a visionary business leader? Vision in business requires that you clearly see where you choose to be in future and formulate the necessary steps to get your organisation there. Creating and sustaining a vision for an organisation calls for discipline and creativity.
A business leader must have the passion, strength of will and necessary knowledge to achieve long-term goals. A focused individual who can inspire his team to reach organisational goals is a visionary business leader.
Many visionary leaders have captured the attention and admiration of the public and influenced the direction, thinking and behaviour of a large group, society and even a nation. Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg are my favourites.
What you need
To become a real leader, you must have the knack to capture the attention of, and positively influence, the people who report to you. If you have that knack, your people collectively will do a great job and may help you to reach your vision.
Let us now briefly cover a common process successfully used in many company leaders for influencing his team members to contribute to the organisation’s success sharing his strategic direction.
Creating your own vision
First of all, you must create a vision by yourself how you want your team to move forward and then share it with them. Another option is, you may get all members involved and collectively arrive at a decision what your vision should be. Personally, I prefer first option because it is your plan and you are fully responsible to it.
To create your vision for your team, first you need to clarify your team’s purpose and the required goals necessary to make a worthwhile contribution to the organisation as a whole. The overall purpose of your job is probably the same as that of your team because you’re the leader of your team and are responsible for its success.
Keeping the purpose of your team in the back of your mind, start to create a picture or vision of how you see your team working in achieving its purpose by reflecting upon and answering the following questions.
Get a notebook and copy the following questions, leaving enough space to answer them. Then add your own questions to this list to help you to think about anything that’s significant to you in creating your vision:
What will the members in my team be doing?
How will the members of the team be working together?
How will the team be working with and serving its customers or colleagues in other departments?
How will my members be treated?
What impression will the team be making on the different groups of people it works for and with?
What will these different groups be saying about my team?
How will the members of the team be feeling about their work and about each other?
When you’ve answered all the questions, reflect upon your answers; draw out the key words or themes that are significant to you. Combine the significant words or themes to produce a short note or paragraph that captures your vision of your team.
When you’re satisfied with the statement or drawing that captures your vision, share it enthusiastically with your team so that they to be part of it and make it come true. Talk to your team regularly about the vision to reinforce what you’re striving to create and discuss the progress your team while acknowledging their achievements.
More the better
The more you involve people in creating a vision, the more they feel part of it, own it and be committed to achieving it.
While an organisation’s vision is equivalent to the destination it seeks to reach, action represents the steps taken on the path to get there. Emphasis should be put into both vision and action. A balance is created when the directions or instructions of getting there are crystal clear. Action should be focused on what to do and how to get there.
Simply emphasizing the vision may not provide sufficient motivation. A leader should have a good understanding of his team. This will enable him to know what motivates them. An example of motivation may involve providing a comfortable small cafeteria or a break room with comfortable furniture and lots of white boards where employees can relax and brainstorm together.
Creating an environment where workers can realize their peak performance is a necessary action towards achieving your vision. Such positive actions make your vision more realistic for team members. An enabling environment also allows the members the freedom of creativity.
Think of how many ways Google has shaped the Internet. From advanced search algorithms to revolutionizing online marketing with AdWords; having an environment that nurtures innovation has kept the Google vision alive and on the continuous the path to success.
How can a business leader turn vision into reality?
Whenever a vision is followed by action, the vision can be turned into reality. One important action of leadership is the formation of a formidable team. No single skill set is sufficient in achieving success in business. A visionary leader recognizes talented individuals with skills that complement each other and contribute to business growth.
Before any action can be turned into reality, a great deal of discipline is necessary. Discipline requires that you follow through with your purpose and direction, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks. This may require the leader to take responsibility for the team’s actions and decisions.
A visionary leader turns vision into reality by creating a vivid image of the target they need to attain and creating a specific strategic plan for the coming months. The leader details what goals the company must accomplish and the specific responsibilities of each key team member. Along the way, the leader keeps the team informed of their progress. And the leader celebrates small victories with the team, while remaining focused on the big goal.
Encourage certain actions for business growth
Visionary leaders know that if they differentiate their businesses from the competition, they can expect fast business growth. Determine what your company’s strength is and differentiate yourself using it. Make sure your team understands the value proposition of your specific brand(s) and knows how to communicate it to others.
In many cases, business growth can be achieved by avoiding what others are doing. When other businesses are driven by fear and they act accordingly, it can sometimes pay to do the opposite. Determine what others businesses are neglecting then act on it. Businesses may downsize, cutback or reduce budgets following fears of recession. It may pay off to focus your business plan on the future, rather than copy your competition. Well planned, bold moves can create big excitement in your team and pay off with big results.
It is important to know who your customers are in order to promote business growth. Many businesses have realized that it pays more to attract only top-tier clients. Such a strategy is efficient as it can reduce advertising and labour costs, hence leading to more profit. It makes more sense to sell to hundreds of clients for a higher profit margin, than to sell to thousands with a lower profit margin. Know your return on investment (ROI) and teach your team to plan accordingly.
(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired corporate director counting three decades of senior management experience. He is now an independent consultant and a freelance journalist. He may be contacted