My biggest question/challenge is on establishing vision. This feels a lot like uncharted territory for me. I am a good “executioner” but don’t see myself as being a visionary and would appreciate information in regard to that.
Jo Miller Answers:
Nilofer Merchant, a corporate director and Harvard Business Review columnist, described a visionary as one who “identifies a direction that can awaken and direct the inner passion and strength of people because of its appeal.”A visionary has ability to recognize and articulate a brighter future, in a way that engages others, and is committed to making that future happen. So committed, in fact, that Merchant says “A visionary never gives in, or gives up.”
Pay attention to the business environment
Becoming a visionary begins with paying close attention to what’s going on around you.
Visionaries have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on within the business and in the larger business environment. Whether you like to gather information by talking to others, reading business news, industry networking, or delving into company reports, you should challenge yourself to think about what it all means in terms of future trends. Make your hypotheses about the future.
Set time aside for creative visioning and planning
The C-level women leaders I know try to take time out on a regular basis to reflect on the overall direction and future of their organization. They come to appreciate this quiet, creative time to focus on the big picture, future direction, and plans. Leaders find this exercise renewing and re-energizing.
Become an everyday visionary
To establish yourself as a visionary, first you must start by solving the problem of world peace.
When we talk about “being a visionary” it often sounds as though you need to dwell on gigantic, lofty issues — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
But you can start by being visionary about smaller things than solving global warming.
For example, when mid-way through a project, try to predict roadblocks to its successful completion. Bring colleagues together to brainstorm and encourage agreement on a preemptive plan.
Or identify a problem, search for information about new processes or best practices that could be applied and present a proposal to management.
Once you have succeeded on this initial scale and gain confidence in your ability to establish a vision, you can take on bigger problems like a finding a profitable new product, or leading innovation, or solving an endemic problem.
Then move on to negotiating peace in the Middle East.
Jo Miller is CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching Inc. which offers women’s leadership seminars and coaching programs.