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Have people called you a dreamer because you want something so unbelievable? You might be surprised to discover that many of the world’s most iconic figures were dreamers, too. Geniuses of their time, like the Wright Brothers and Alfred Hitchcock, were once seen as lunatics or madmen because they chased seemingly impossible things. What made them different from other dreamers was that they possessed a particular skill: visionary leadership.
Many of us may have heard of famous people called visionary leaders. What exactly does that mean? Visionary leadership is when someone takes charge and leads others towards a specific goal or plan. People call them “visions” because they seem impossible or unrealistic.
Look back at our examples. The Wright Brothers wanted to fly in a time when only hot air balloons existed. Alfred Hitchcock wanted to make visually frightening cuts of movies when others relied on monsters or violence. They made their name because they bucked the trend and did something others couldn’t have imagined working. Now, that’s not to say every visionary leader must chase grand ideas. A visionary leader can be someone who sees the potential of a group or a business. To these people, a small bakeshop or a local mechanic can grow into a statewide success.
In other words, visionary leaders follow a vision of what they want to achieve. It’s in the name, after all. Finding the right vision is one of the characteristics of a visionary leader. Whether it’s a grand idea or a goal that seems out of reach, they won’t stop until they succeed. That’s what makes visionary leaders so iconic; they are persistent and dedicated to doing what they have to realize their goals.
Being a visionary leader is not easy. It takes time, passion, and a lot of hard work to succeed. To illustrate my point, four famous people embody the meaning of a “visionary leader” and how they became so successful. Here’s what you need to know about them and the characteristics of a visionary leader that they embody.
The man who co-founded Apple and invented the iPod is our first example. Steve Jobs did not seem to be a man who would succeed in life. He often skipped classes and eventually dropped out of college. However, when his friend Steve Wozniak approached him with designs for a computer logic board, Jobs was more than willing to join. Over the years, they would continue to build home computer systems like the Apple II, the Lisa, and the MacIntosh.
Even after Steve left Apple, he would continue to explore technology through NeXT Inc. and Pixar, which would eventually make the first fully computer-animated film, Toy Story. When he finally returned to Apple, Steve found even more innovations to explore, like the iPhone with its touchscreen capabilities and music video libraries. Even after his passing, Steve Jobs remains one of the most celebrated visionaries and leaders ever.
Without John D. Rockefeller, the history of the oil business in America would never be as memorable as it is now. He made a big gamble by borrowing money from his partners to buy the largest oil refinery in Cleveland. He would then establish Standard Oil and became its president. Under John’s leadership, the company flourished and grew to own over 90% of all refineries in the country. He would also fund several homegrown projects, like developing oil barrels and alternative uses for petroleum.
The title for “The Richest Man In The World” could very well be given to Warren Buffet. A business graduate, Warren would use his knowledge to buy the majority of stocks of Berkshire Hathaway, a textile company that would be his primary investment. In the next 30 years, as the stocks rose by 11% annually, Berkshire Hathaway would grow by an astonishing 28% per year. Soon, Berkshire Hathaway bought stocks from other well-known companies like Apple and Coca-Cola.
In the meantime, Warren Buffet would earn up to $100 billion and be one of, if not the wealthiest person alive. To the surprise of many, Warren was not fond of having a luxurious lifestyle. Instead, he would donate most of his fortune to charities worldwide, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its extensive catalog of superhero movies will be familiar with the name of Kevin Feige. The most recent entry in our list spent his childhood as a fan of the Marvel comics and toys. When he decided to enter the film industry, he was rejected five times before being admitted to the USC Cinematic Arts school. Afterward, he served as a production assistant before becoming involved with the X-Men movies.
When he finally joined Marvel in 2000, he would go on to be the producer of “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk”. Kevin would soon be instrumental in slowly developing the shared universe of Marvel movies, with hits like “Captain America” and “Thor” causing more sequels and spin-offs to expand the franchise. Such a vision seemed laughable at the time but would eventually spawn blockbusters like “The Avengers: Endgame”, among the highest-grossing films of all time.
There are many examples of visionary leaders overcoming odds to achieve success. Now that you can see their success, it’s time to teach you how they became successful. Here are seven essential qualities that a visionary leader has. By learning these, you can become an influential figure that can lead your team above and beyond limits.
One of the first characteristics of a visionary leader is that they aim for something better than they can get. You don’t have to do something grand or spectacular to innovate. By innovation, I’m talking about imagining something more. If your business is a local store, a visionary can see the potential for a profitable franchise. This type of leader also looks for unlikely or creative solutions. They like to think of uncommon answers to everyday problems, looking for angles and viewpoints others might not notice.
It’s hard to have a dream if you aren’t persistent. By dedicating their time and effort to the vision, a leader has to be ready to withstand everything that comes their way. Failure and criticism will be present at any moment. You’ll likely face doubters and cynics who don’t believe in your dream. Even those close to you might be skeptical about what you plan on achieving. Although that may be the case, a true visionary leader accepts and pushes forward. They are also known to inspire and motivate the people who work with them. By encouraging their colleagues to do more, these leaders can surpass expectations and surprise everyone, including themselves.
Risks are a significant factor in the visionary leader’s world. Sometimes, their decisions could cost them valuable resources or fail miserably. For example, Steve Jobs did not always succeed with his inventions. Though he captured everyone’s attention with the Macintosh, its sales underperformed due to a lack of software capabilities. It was a big gamble, leading to Jobs’ expulsion from the company.
However, as we know, Steve also managed to return to Apple and bring in new technologies like iTunes and iPods. If he wasn’t so bold, he might not have been able to build so much. That’s why being bold goes a long way. While it might not sound ideal when thinking of the characteristics of a visionary leader, taking chances makes the process more exciting and worthwhile.
Organizing your plan and your team is essential to realizing your goals, especially if they seem unreachable. For example, John D. Rockefeller made several clever and systematic purchases of all the refineries he could reach. The man was brilliant, and his business sense helped him gain control of over 90% of the oil business. However, he was also methodical. He knew who to approach and at what price each person could take.
You can take the same initiative in your office by outlining your tasks and goals for the week. Break down these tasks into practical and realistic steps. Suppose you have to rebrand the company in a month. The first step would be to brainstorm with your team members. Once you collaborate and find the right path, you should break down what tasks you should address. These tasks include the logo, the website, and the company statement. By proceeding with a detailed plan, everything can go smoothly.
Knowing the right people to connect to is as important as chasing your vision. Collaboration is an excellent way to expand your resources. By meeting those whom you can trust and who believe in your plan, you gain more help in following your goals. For example, Kevin Feige would not have joined Marvel had he not been noticed by Avi Arad, the founder of Marvel Studios. That connection kickstarted Kevin’s influence in the Marvel movies and helped him build a shared universe that nobody could have imagined.
I always believe that accountability goes a long way. Being accountable for your actions can help you understand your mistakes. I think I can learn the most valuable lessons where I have failed, not where I’ve succeeded. That also applies to visionary leaders. They are willing to accept their actions’ risks and consequences because of their dream. More importantly, they are eager to adapt and continue forward when they fail.
Lastly, the power of optimism is helpful in any plan. It’s hard to follow through with a project when you don’t trust it will work. That’s why being optimistic is one of the key characteristics of a visionary leader. You have to hope and believe that what you want will come true.
The more you believe in your dream, the more your colleagues will, too. It’ll also help them keep pushing beyond their limits to see the fruits of their labors. Keep holding on, and you’ll eventually realize what you’ve always wanted.
Visionary leaders are the people who can motivate and inspire others to make changes to a plan or business. Their objective is to innovate their situation by going in a bold direction. Having the characteristics of a visionary leader, like organization, collaboration, and accountability, can help them effectively make decisions and take risks. In addition, they carry a healthy sense of optimism that encourages them to go after their ideal dream. Visionaries like Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett have taken the world by storm with their daredevil decisions and brilliant minds. By learning these qualities, you too can become a visionary leader and do the impossible.
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