4 Traits of Visionary Leaders


“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker


All leaders are visionaries to some degree; they utilize their imagination to envision a better future. They’ll pursue their vision until it begins to recreate their current reality. It will eventually reprioritize their daily agenda. Everyone has a vision, yet many will not see it materialize. Those who do come under the influence of the thing they’ve been dreaming about for years.


I’ve often said that “The odds for success shift heavily in your favor when your vision owns you.” Four simple traits set visionary leaders apart from the rest.


1. Visionary Leaders Work with Teams


All accomplished leaders have some things in common; top of the list is a compelling vision. When it comes to a compelling vision, leaders see it, dream about it, and motivate others to share in doing what it takes to fulfill it. These visionary leaders will attract the necessary gifted people and assemble high-performance teams.


John C. Maxwell notes, “Teamwork makes the dream work. If you can achieve your vision by flying solo, then chances are you’re not doing anything worthwhile. A big dream requires a talented team in order to take root in reality.”


2. Visionary Leaders Dream Big


Visionary leaders dream big and plan big with the motivation to do what it takes to accomplish great things. Visionaries take on significant challenges, always weighing and monitoring the risks and rewards; they have no fear of failures or setbacks but see them as part of risks that come with the high probability of gaining the rewards.


General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra listed 5th on Forbes Most Powerful Women list 2019. She ranked 2nd in 2014 and 1st in 2015. Visionary leaders like Barra see how positive change can take place and seek to implement it. Implementing powerful ideas with powerful teams changes things so, dream big.


3. Visionary Leaders Understand Boundaries


A visionary leader must understand boundaries. Barra says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I actually feel like I come to work stronger when I’ve had a little time on the weekend to step away from it and enjoy my family and other things. I come back energized. If people think they’re going to work 24/7, week in and week out, they’re not bringing their full strength to the table.”


Boundaries bring clarity to all we do. When healthy, our boundaries produce energy and a love for life within all our spheres of influence. Setting boundaries helps people know where they stand with us relationally. Healthy boundaries foster and protect healthy relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.


Psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud comments, “Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle.” He continues, “What are boundaries? They are made up of two essential things: what you create and what you allow. – Good boundaries, both those that help us manage ourselves and lead others, always produce freedom, not control.”


4. Visionary Leaders Are Specific and Consistent


Visionary leaders are intentional; if they weren’t, they’d only be dreamers. In choosing a life that matters, John C. Maxwell says, “Most people want to hear or tell a good story. But they don’t realize they can and should be the good story. That requires intentional living.” The following vision questions are from the Vision section of our Master Operating System; it’s an excellent tool for being a more influential leader and developing your story.


  • Do you have a clear vision that each team member can clearly articulate?

  • Are your core values clear enough to recruit, retain, reward, and let employees go based on them?

  • Do you have a clear vision for the future of the organization 3, 5, 7, and 10 years out?

  • Do you have a budget, and it is being monitored on a regular basis?

  • Do you have an annual re-occurring full day (minimum) leadership meeting in the calendar to plan for the upcoming year?(1)


“Vision is the Source and hope of life. The greatest gift ever given to mankind is not the gift of sight, but the gift of vision. Sight is a function of the eyes; vision is a function of the heart. ‘Eyes that look are common, but eyes that see are rare.’ Nothing noble or noteworthy on earth was ever done without vision.” Dr. Myles Munroe.


(1) Learn more about our Master Operating System https://bit.ly/3fxSTLx


*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***

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