Visionary Leadership: The Ultimate Game Changer

By: Bonnie Hagemann, CEO, Executive Development Associates, Inc.

Have you ever noticed that when there is a lack of vision, decisions are made based on minutiae?  For example, in my hometown of Kansas City there is a lot of complaining about the airport. I mean A LOT.  And it has been going on for years. As a frequent business traveler, I know I have voiced my own complaints on more than one occasion.

Kansas City is a city split down the middle by the state line. On one side is Kansas City, Missouri (the side with the airport) and on the other side is Kansas City, Kansas. The “powers that be” did an in-depth study years ago and after two years, a ton of bureaucratic back and forth, and I’m sure a lot of money spent, they presented their revolutionary findings that any business traveler could have told you while standing in the security line – that the airport needs one terminal instead of three. Ask me in the security line and I would give you that exact answer – no research team or budget needed. Not to mention the fact that we need access to the gates to be changed so that one does not have to go in and out of security simply catch a connecting flight or change airlines. The airport is nowhere near big enough to warrant that. And while you’re at it, please put the parking all in one place. OK, I’ll stop. You get the picture.

The point is, a new airport layout is sorely needed and the city leaders are not getting it done. It ultimately costs the city millions in revenue as companies consider travel ease and access when deciding whether or not to move their offices to the area. Kansas City, Missouri has lingered with their lack of vision and clarity for so long, that Kansas City, Kansas has come up with their own solution. Perhaps they will build an airport. Hmmmm……now there’s an idea. Maybe a little competition will cause Kansas City, Missouri’s city leaders to spring into action, but I doubt it. Either way, I’m cheering for the best man, I mean city, to win. Whoever builds it, I will come.

The real problem here is a lack of leadership. When there is clear and courageous leadership, cities, countries, organizations, and companies do not flounder. They move forward. Visionary leadership is desperately needed today as the environment shifts and shakes in disorienting ways. Visionary leaders are the ones who can imagine a future that they cannot see and then create a crystal-clear picture of what that future looks like to the extent that it becomes a shared picture – one that everyone involved can “see” and get excited about.  When done well, the visionary leader not only makes the vision compelling, but also ensures that those impacted see how they as an individual fit into the overall picture and can in fact have an impact, small or large, on the outcome.

Our Trends in Executive Development research reveals that the number one competency needed in leaders today is the ability to create a compelling vision and engage others around it. Not surprisingly, we also found this to be the number one most lacking competency in next generation leaders. So, we don’t have it now and we’re not going to have it in the future unless we do something about it. Our new book, Leading with Vision: The Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision and Engaging the Workforce tackles these issues head-on.

It’s time for organizations, countries, and cities (especially mine!) to step up to the plate and develop their leaders in a way that paves the way for successful future outcomes.

About the Author:

Bonnie Hagemann is the CEO of Executive Development Associates. She has over 15 years of experience successfully leading consulting firms through times of rapid growth and acquisitions as well as economic downturn and downsizing, in addition to 25 years of experience coaching, educating and developing leaders.

Bonnie has 33 published works including a book on the shifting workforce demographics and their impact on leadership entitled Decades of Differences. Her newest book, Leading with Vision: The Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Compelling Vision and Engaging the Workforce, hits shelves in May 2017 (click here to order your copy).

She leads research initiatives and publishes results in the areas of Trends in Executive Development, Executive Coaching, and High Potential Development.