The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

February 17, 2013

The Leader as Visionary

By Jim Hessler

Leaders see things others don’t see. (No, I’m not talking about dead people.) They habitually look into the future and create possibilities out of what for other people is dark space. They are able to paint a picture of a better future that compels others to engage in the mission of the organization.

While a manager is buckling down to set the agenda for the management meeting, or reviewing the latest set of stats of financial reports, the leader may very well be off in la-la land imagining those things that have not yet come to pass.

And this is where managers and leaders can sometimes drive one another bananas. While the manager has her feet firmly on the ground, always wanting to know how, the leader searches for the “why” and the “why not.” The leader’s dreams often run into the brick wall of the manager’s reality, and the manager’s best laid plans can sometimes be turned upside down by a leader newly excited by an idea they came up while they were walking the dog.

The power of the leader’s vision is essential to a healthy organization. Their vision creates an emotional connection with the future that energizes and recharges the company. They like to set goals in such a way that people say, “Wouldn’t THAT be cool!”

And of course, after they create vision, they sit down with their managers, and in a classic give and take they try together to figure out what’s possible. If the managers are good managers, they appreciate the leader’s ability to excite their sense of possibilities. If the leaders are smart, they honor and appreciate the grounding that good managers provide, as they also value the managers’ abilities to manage the projects and initiatives that make the organization’s dreams come true.

Management and leadership are indeed different, and there is a true magic that happens when an organization of good managers is engaged in a vision that brings deeper meaning to their work.

In a recent edition of The Boss Show we presented part 2 of a 5 part series called Leadership versus Management.


About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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