John Scully, Apple’s visionary leader and CEO from 1983 to 1993, once said, “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” What are the possibilities of a business, and what kind of person sees them before others?
Because we work with visionary companies, people ask us all the time, “What is a visionary company?” The simple answer is that a visionary company has a visionary leader at the helm.
So, what makes a visionary leader? That is not a simple answer, but one that fascinates us here at The Creative Alliance, as we work with this type of person every day.
Like bald eagles, visionary leaders are as rare as they are special. They serve as the innovative engine behind America’s emerging-growth companies. Over the years we’ve noticed that these leaders have a lot in common. And even with technology and culture changing so dramatically, the core values and attributes of visionary leaders have changed very little. These people share
a host of qualities that set them apart as visionary.
Here are 21 attributes of visionary leaders. Visionary leaders:
- Have a clear vision for their work
- Are passionate and love what they do
- Seek out knowledge and plan strategically
- Inspire others
- Make decisions that don’t have to be either-or but can be both
- Rely on a mixture of intuition and experience
- Recognize and exploit big ideas
- Are calculated risk-takers
- Get things done with the least amount of cost, but with the right amount of effort
- Have organic core values that develop authentically over time
- Are always trying new things
- Focus on outdoing themselves, not their competition
- Trust talented and loyal people
- Have their key people and change agents come from within their system
- Tend to zig, when others zag
- Use key performance indicators to run their business
- Change their minds as new ideas and opportunities arise
- Have great places to work (or work for), but only if you fit their vision and culture
- Move quickly on opportunities
- Learn from their experiences and build upon them
- Are resilient and rarely, if ever, give up
We stopped at 21, but I’m sure you could add to this list. You could also take away some attributes and still have a visionary leader. Perhaps you know people like this, or you may be a visionary leader yourself. If so, congratulations! You are a one-of-a-kind breed, but often
underappreciated in most companies. Think about it. When was the last time you said how much you appreciated the leader of your company? Now, even though they would surely love the gratitude, I can tell you they do what they do for other reasons. Maybe it’s the thrill of testing their wings and flying off that mountain, over the great and treacherous landscape below…
Thank you from us for taking the risks, pulling out all the stops, developing the new ideas, and bringing the new products and services to the masses—not to mention the multitude of great jobs in this world.
Now you also know what it’s like to be a client of The Creative Alliance!
“Where there is no vision the people perish.”
— Proverbs 29:18