Leaders Are Visionaries

Leaders Are Visionaries With A Poorly Developed Sense Of Fear And No Concept Of The Odds Against Them. They Make The Impossible Happen.

Today’s “Tip” is actually a quote from author Dr. Robert Jarvik. I think it’s a great quote because he captures the essence and effect of leadership. It start’s with vision and ends in results.

Unfortunately, many of today’s business, political, religious, and family “leaders” are anything but leaders. They have no vision beyond their own self-interest, and they do not create an environment in which others soar.

Development Dimensions International, a global human resource consulting firm, identified several telltale signs of leadership failure. Almost all of them related to poor people skills. Some of the stronger indicators were impulsiveness, imperceptiveness, and a dependency on others for approval. One of the strongest indicators of leadership failure was arrogance. As the former head of Russia, Boris Yeltsin said, “You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long. “

Other people mistakenly think leadership is all about expertise. Not at all. Time and again, you’ll find the best leaders aren’t necessarily the ones who possess the most technical knowledge.

All you have to do is look at the economy to know that. You can ask five different economists to explain what is happening in the economy and what advice they would give you, and you’ll get five completely different and contradictory answers.

The folks at the “Fort Worth Star-Telegram” proved that back in 1997. They even reported their results in the September 29 issue of “Business Week. “Scott Fagerstrom, the newspaper’s deputy business editor, enlisted the help of Rusty, a 1700 pound bull, and the help of several expert stock market analysts to make his point.

In January Rusty was placed in a corral broken into 100 squares, each with the name of a company on it. Rusty was allowed to let the chips fall where they may. Based on the bull’s droppings, Scott Fagerstrom made imaginary $10,000 investments into each of the following: Comp USA, Craftmade, GTE, Harken Energy, National Semiconductor, Summit Bancshares, and United Heritage of Cleburne.

How did Rusty fare? At the end of August, his portfolio outperformed the pros’ by 11% and the Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index by 20%. Obviously, expertise did not guarantee the effectiveness of the “expert’s” leadership.

No, LEADERSHIP, REAL LEADERSHIP STARTS WITH VISION. That’s how Steve Jobs recruited John Scully to take over Apple Computers. He planted a vision in Scully that Scully later planted in others.

At the time, Scully was destined to lead up PepsiCo. The clincher came when Jobs asked him, “How many more years of your life do you want to spend making colored water when you can have an opportunity to come here and change the world?”

Many people would argue that the best CEO (maybe not the best person) of the 20th century was Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric. When asked for his thoughts on leadership, he echoed the same sentiment. Leadership starts with vision. Jack said, “With leadership the question at the beginning and at the end of the day is, ‘How far can we take this. . . how big can we grow it. . . and how fast can we get there’?”

With the vision in place, LEADERSHIP IS EXHIBITED IN A RELATIVE LACK OF FEAR. Leaders aren’t terribly afraid of change, the competition, or the difficulties that lie ahead. They’ve got so much passion that they don’t have much time for fear. As August Busch, head of Anheuser Busch said, “We do not know the meaning of the phrase ‘It can’t be done’. “

And it is this relative lack of fear, this abundance of passion, this all-out belief in the vision that turns on everyone else. Michael Eisner, head of Disney, commented on that. As the top dog at Disney, he said 18 presidents report to him, and inevitably the person with the strongest point of view carries the day. In other words, the strongest point of view influences where everyone else will go in the company.

Finally, for today’s Tip, LEADERS MAKE THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPEN. Not by themselves, of course. But they make the impossible happen by letting their passion ignite a spark in others, and then they give others the boost they need to make it happen.

Successories summed it up this way, “By the strength of the leader’s commitment, the power of the team is unleashed. “Or La Rochefoucauld wrote, “Nothing is so contagious as an example. . . (Leaders). . . never do great good or great evil without bringing about more of the same on the part of others. “

Leaders make the impossible happen by giving the needed boost, just like the catapults on a jet aircraft carrier. When I’ve worked with the military, they say it takes a lot of guts to take off in a jet aboard an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean. They know if the F14 Tomcat depended solely on its own engines, its destination would be the deep blue under instead of the wild blue yonder.

To give the fighter planes an extra boost, the carrier has catapults that accelerate the airplanes to take-off speed. After that, the Tomcat will achieve, on its own, speeds faster than the speed of sound. But it needs that boost. And so do the people around you if you’re going to be a leader.

You may not have the official title of leader, and you may not have a designated position of power, but you can be a leader at work or in your community, church, or family. You can make a positive difference. Indeed, you should be doing so. It starts with your vision, your relative lack of fear, and your ability to make things happen by giving others a boost.

Action on Leadership:

Lots of people live without vision. They don’t look beyond quitting time on Friday or their next vacation. Well that’s survival, but it’s certainly a long ways from being a peak performer or being a leader.

If you don’t have a vision that you can easily articulate in 25 words or less, this is the week to get one. Think about it. Write it down. Try it out on a few trusted friends. Get their feedback. If it isn’t initially understandable to them, simplify it and give it another try. A well-stated vision will put your life on track and help you lead others.