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Les McKeown's Predictable Success Blog

First published January 9, 2012

Why Visionary Leaders Must Institutionalize their V-ness (and how to do it) 

Having a Visionary leader can be a competitive advantage. Click here to download a pdf of me recent article for Leadership ExcellenceAll other things being equal, the Visionary leader (strategic, creative, charismatic, communicative) will produce greater step change and higher growth than the Operator leader (driven, tactical, focused, determined) or the Processor leader (process-oriented, systems focused, iterative, conservative). The problem comes when it’s time for the Visionary leader to move on. Whether it happens by choice (Bill Gates), ouster (Michael Eisner) or death (Steve Jobs), the Visionary often leaves behind a vacuum rather than a legacy. The reason? Any organization of size is typically populated with Operators and Processors. So when an Operator or Processor leader moves on, they leave behind an underlying Operator or Processor framework that can (relatively) easily be managed by a successor uber-Operator or Processor. The Visionary leader, on the other hand, is often the personification of their organization’s leadership and vision and, unlike the Operator or Processor leader, fail to institutionalize it. So when they leave, the vision crumbles (see Howard Schultz, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Ted Waitt when they each left their companies for the first time). Unlike the Operator or Processor, the Visionary often fails to leave behind a visionary framework that can carry forward their legacy and maintain the vision. In this month’s ‘Leadership Excellence’ I explain that this doesn’t need to be so. Quite the opposite – I show that like Sam Walton, Estee Lauder, Robert Johnson and Herb Kelleher, with planning (and commitment), a Visionary can institutionalize their V-ness and leave behind a lasting visionary framework. by taking six specific steps: 1. Having a talk with their ego. 2. Stepping back from the front line. 3. Changing the hiring process. 4. Changing how people are deployed. 5. Mentoring and coaching others, and 6. Integrating and protecting their vision. You can read more about these six steps and how they result in an organization with institutionalized vision, by downloading a pdf of the article here. Enjoy.

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