Managers: Visionary vs Dreamer

Business leaders come in many different shapes and sizes. There are styles and methods. Some have a natural charisma and some not. Despite there being so many legendary leaders with so many different approaches to their individual commitments, I find one common thread.

That thread is vision. Having a visionary capacity is far different from dreaming. Dreams can give birth to ideas; they may or may not happen.

However, being a leader with a vision is powerful. Visionary leadership takes into account lessons learned from the past, current circumstances, and future projections. Then from that mix, the leader who is a visionary can formulate a new idea; a different way to go.


Steve Jobs didn’t merely build technology. He built a whole new human interface with the world. He and his co-founders laid the framework for applying technology in new and different ways to elevate the human experience.

Did Jobs’ vision make sense to everyone? NO! He was even ousted for a time as CEO of his own company. Yet when the momentum that had been driven by his vision flickered, he was brought back.

I don’t have illusions of being mentioned in the same breath as a Steve Jobs. But I have been coupled with very capable business leaders who may never make a front page headline or the 6:00 news. That is reality.

For every business titan who makes news, there are thousands of other business managers and leaders who make a substantial difference right where they are. You can be one of those too.

You can have a vision for your team, your unit, or your small business. You can be the visionary that grabs hold of a new idea and brings it to life.

Visionary people face the same problems everyone else faces; but rather than get paralyzed by their problems, visionaries immediately commit themselves to finding a solution –  Bill Hybels

Being a visionary requires a few special attributes though. Here are the ones I’ve seen at work:

Clear Thinking

Visionaries seldom get side-tracked by details. Their minds maintain an uncluttered look at the world around them. Once a vision emerges, the visionary is able to communicate the vision to his/her team. Those discussions frequently begin with “What if..?”

Ability to Master Complex Thought

New visions are not always simple ideas. The bigger the vision, the more complex the details seem. The visionary sees the whole picture with great detail. Like an champion athlete who finds themselves in a “zone”, the visionary can be thinking about one aspect of their idea and quickly turn to another aspect without losing their place or confusing the details.

I’ve known visionaries who describe their idea as a large landscape canvas in their mind. All the details are carefully mapped out, each properly aligned with the other critical elements, moving in a perfect harmony. When a colleague asks about a detail, the visionary simply moves to that place on the picture and describes the view right there.


Once an idea takes hold, the visionary becomes determined to see it through. Failure along the way is merely seen as the process of eliminating solutions that are not the right answer.

Introducing the WHY.os. Learn YOUR why, how, and what that drives your passion and motivation.


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