A leader needs to lead towards a vision. A good leader does not need to be the one who comes up with the vision. In fact, that may be best done with a leadership team. But once the vision is clear, team leaders are the primary communicators of the vision. These leaders must see more, see farther, and see more clearly than those they lead. Without clear vision a leader becomes one of the “blind leading the blind” and we settle for activity rather than accomplishment of God’s purposes.
When we say a leader needs to “see more” what we intend is that a leader needs to be able to see the whole, not just the individual parts. They must be able to think and lead systemically, noting how one decision can impact the whole, not just the immediate parts. Much like a fine watch that has multiple interconnected gears, so is leadership at an organizational level. One change can have ramifications at multiple levels. A leader with vision sees the immediate impact, but can also anticipate impacts on multiple levels.
The second type of vision that is needed by a leader is the ability to “see farther” into the future. It is that gaze towards the horizon that sees what is coming before others and that prepares one to take advantage of changes thrust upon us or protect others from this change. This vision truly needs to be bifocal – seeing what is up close and immediate as well as seeing what is coming towards us in the future. Many get so consumed by the immediate that they are taken by surprise by what arrives on their doorstep. Much like the approaching tsunami, when the water recedes away from the beach we know that there is an impending wave coming. Rather than rushing towards the receding water to collect the newly exposed sea shells, we move rapidly away from the beach to high ground because we know what will soon follow.
A third type of vision is that good leaders need to “see more clearly” the issues surrounding their leadership. This type of vision involves focus as well as depth perception. A focused vision is one that does not get distracted by the clamor around them. It is laser-like in intensity knowing that this is a God-given mission that we do for His glory and we do knowing that we will be accountable to Him. This clarity has depth perception in that it takes into consideration the various dimensions of any issue. A good leader is able to see multiple sides of an issue, weighing the pros and cons, embracing different points of view, and is willing to change his or her thoughts when confronted with weightier arguments.
Vision – don’t try to lead without it! Have you had your vision checked recently?