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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

  • December 27, 2018
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Confessions of a Visionary Leader 

This article is written by Predictable Success Consultant Carissa Figgins.

Carissa Figgins, Predictable Success Consultant

I’ve noticed that my employees have adopted a refrain about me and how I tend to lead. It goes like this, “Who knows what we’re doing today… just something else that Carissa’s cooked up.”

Over time, I’ve become more aware not just of the inspiration I can spark within my staff, but also the uncertainty I can cause them.

For example, Visionaries like myself are constantly being drawn to the next big grand idea. Never mind that we haven’t quite figured out how to accomplish the last 15 big grand ideas we had. We fly at 30,000 feet and don’t deal well with the granular details.

We also tend to migrate toward others who are idea generators. It is not unusual for me to meet other Visionaries and have the conversation drift towards what conference they are going to this week, what workshop is next month and who is in their parade of current coaches.

There is certainly a time and place for those things. However, for the good of our organizations, there are also times when we have to tuck our squirrel syndrome away (think of Dug in Pixar’s ‘Up’) and add some consistency and accountability to our decisions.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned, both as a Visionary and by consulting others through Predictable Success, to enable Visionaries to lead more effectively:

1. Be Present
Here’s a  common Visionary scenario… We’ll call a meeting but almost as soon as it’s underway, we’ll check out, distracted by our cell phones. Or rather than actually calling a meeting, we will barge into our co-workers’ offices to hash out our newest plan.

Visionaries can anchor themselves to being present by scheduling meetings ahead of time and, at the very least, putting the cell phone away.

Visionary LeaderBeing present can also mean just focusing on what is right in front of us rather than what we want in the future.

I find scheduling periodic “brain dumps” with key people on my teams allows me to have a sandbox in which to be creative while also allowing identifying priorities with my Operators and Processors. It’s helpful for them to occasionally see the inside of my brain to know where we are going and then figure out together how we might get there.

2. Allow More Time
Visionaries don’t have a good grasp of time. We think that once we have an idea, it should be implemented within a week’s time. In addition, if others on our team don’t accept our ideas immediately, we begin to get agitated, believing they are slowing down the process.

Exceptional Visionaries understand that once your organization has reached a certain level of complexity, decisions can be made fast but the implementation needs to be slightly slow(er). Other team members, in particular Processors, need more time to assess the data you have given them or even to develop the data around the raw idea you’ve presented.

If your idea is truly important, it will still be there a week, a month, a year later. Just give it (and your team) more time to simmer before moving on.

3. Be Discerning
Visionaries chase after the brightest blue bouncy ball. We tend to listen, read and become attached to the coolest guru. We chase after the next best training program, listen to three and four different life coaches, and buy a caseload of each new New York Times bestseller for our senior leadership teams.

Exceptional Visionaries must decide on the mission, values, vision, and strategy – then filter everything else through that. If another training program doesn’t fit within that framework, then you have to get past scratching that Visionary itch and discern what will be a precise fit for the organization. Determine not just what is good, but rather what is best for the business.

As Visionaries, we take pride in our title of dreamers, and rightly so. But by applying these principles, we can enhance not only the achievement of our visions, but also the satisfaction and success our teams experience along the way.


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Additional Resources:

This article offers a glossary of common Visionary phrases and what they mean.
– Watch the How to be an Effective Visionary Leader webinar here.
– Watch the Working with (or for) a Visionary Leader webinar here.


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