Thursday, March 2, 2017

Three Clarities about Visionary Leadership

Don’t fear of out-of-the-box thinking, but be scared if too many mindsets lag behind the digital era we live in.


Leadership is about setting directions, making positive influences and inspire innovation. At its core, leadership is the journey for problem-solving. Visionary leaders are always the rare breed and in strong demand. Because leadership vision is like the light tower to guide the organization to the uncharted water and blurred digital territories. In fact, vision is one of the most critical digital leadership traits to lead today's business with "VUCA" characteristics. There are a lot of misunderstanding about vision and being a visionary, here are three clarities.


Are visionaries too far ahead of their era? Many think visionaries are too far ahead of their era, but visionaries believe they are at the right timing to ride the change wave and step into the future; while many others are just lagging behind the digital era with the static mind. A visionary has the growth mind to predict and catch the digital trend. In this fast changing world, if you don't look further, keep learning, and move forward, you are already lagging. A visionary mind has the ability to think the past, perceive what is now and foresee the future. Vision is a foresight with a proactive understanding of cause and effect, not reactive seeing. It is a clear choice among future scenarios that advocates future trends and promotes certain behavior. A visionary leader changes the course of the business by seeing beyond what all other see or by charting new revenue or growth through the creation of a new product, service, business model or market. Vision should have a direction which sets in clarity. A leader with a vision, which is high enough to challenge the organization to excel, also practical enough to fulfill, can take his/her organization through the necessary steps to achieve that vision.


Do visionaries think too much “out-of-the-box”? Many think visionaries have too much out-of-box thinking, not so fit in; but visionaries think too many others get stuck to the conventional wisdom for too long; it leads to the outdated perceptions which stifle the human progress. Digital visionaries are the outliers who can step out of a conventional thinking box, or linear patterns. Therefore, they could see things further or deeper. Visionaries think forward, and therefore, often think positively about the future and the environment, to make the progress; because out of dated perception is like time glue that keeps you still while the rest of the world moves on which creates another problem-resentment and more negative thinking. The most dangerous thing in the world is not hard, but soft, it is the negative emotion which leads to destructive behaviors. So visionary leaders do present authenticity - being who you are, don’t be distracted or discouraged by others’ outdated perception. Also, don’t be restricted by conventional wisdom, be open minded to perceive others objectively in this ever fast changing the digital dynamic.


Do visionaries have too much imagination, not realistic? Many think visionaries think too much, not practical enough to get into the reality - often the dark and frustrating real world scenario. Vision is neither fiction nor just the imagination. Visionaries do not lack knowledge, but able to connect the nonlinear dots interdisciplinarily. And their imagination is not constrained by the knowledge; they have the growth mind and creativity, with an intention to brighten the surrounding, and they refuse to be bound by constraints and limitations set by previous generations. That is the essence of leadership, for leading forward and advancing. Vision and innovation are different but complement - vision sets your sight on the horizon, and the strategy is the compass to guide you through.


Vision is indeed crucial, the digital leaders need to observe, perceive, and pay attention to the myriad of internal, external, national or global forces that define and influence the way we do business these days. Don’t fear of out-of-the-box thinking, but be scared if too many mindsets lag behind the digital era we live in. Great leaders should be great visionaries. They possess an innate potential to transform vision into reality and become the true source of inspiration and motivation for advancing and progression.

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