I am fortunate to be involved with several non-profit organizations. They range from religious, to academic, to secular. Even those that are not religious know one of the passages in the Bible that deal with vision. Here is that often misquoted or misused scripture
“Where there is no vision, the people perish”.
It is found in the Old Testament in Proverbs 29:18. It is used many times from the pulpit to exhort us to catch the vision that the pastor has seen and to press us onward to the destination seen in the vision.
But I submit to you that there is a BIG difference between being a visionary and being a leader. And I ask the larger question: Is having a great vision enough? Beyond having a vision, is having one and being able to communicate it, enough?
What is a “visionary?”
A visionary is someone who “sees” where we need to go. However, they may not have the skills necessary to actually lead us there. Visionaries are a little like Indian scouts. They may know how to read the signs and pick up clues that no one else picks up, but they have no clue how to ultimately get us all to the destination.
Providing vision is a skill that is often touted as being one of the key skills for all leaders today to possess. A casual review of the current literature aimed at leaders indicates that this is a highly prized, if not “coveted” skill. But the ability to see where to go without the ability to get us there is a little bit like having a GPS or an old-fashioned road map – but no car. Without a vehicle, the best the GPS can do is to tell us where we are. It does nothing to propel us toward or to help us reach our destination.
What is a leader?
Simply knowing where to go is not enough. Even being able to see the paths and the pitfalls are not enough. A leader must possess the ability to get you from Point A to Point B. A leader must be able to take the vision and craft a plan or a process to achieve the vision and see that it comes to fruition.
What about you? Are you able to see where we should go? Or are you able to actually lead us to our destination? Being a visionary is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a very valuable skill. But, if I had to choose between the two, I would choose to be a leader over being a visionary.
Perhaps even now, someone out there is already starting an online blogging community called “VisionaryVoices.com” for those folks who would make the other choice. But I have staked my position that it is leadership and the many various voices of leadership that are needed today. And leaders may need to speak with different voices from time to time. That is why I began LeadershipVoices.com. It was because I believe in the value of leadership and in the ability to adapt our leadership voice to the challenges of the moment.
Watch in the coming days for some exciting announcements about the importance of being able to adapt our voice quickly to the leadership challenges that we face each day.