Small Business Ahead
Small Biz Ahead

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Are You a Visionary Business Leader?

By Dave Lavinsky | Forbes

What does it mean to be a visionary business leader?

Vision in business requires that you clearly see where you choose to be in future and formulate the necessary steps to get your organization there. Creating and sustaining a vision for an organization calls for discipline and creativity.

A business leader must have the passion, strength of will, and necessary knowledge to achieve long-term goals. A focused individual who can inspire his team to reach organizational goals is a visionary business leader.

It’s Important to Balance Vision and Action

While an organization’s vision is equivalent to the destination it seeks to reach, action represents the steps taken on the path to get there. Emphasis should be put into both vision and action. A balance is created when the directions or instructions of getting there are crystal clear. Action should be focused on what to do and how to get there.

Simply emphasizing the vision may not provide sufficient motivation. A leader should have a good understanding of his team. This will enable him to know what motivates them. An example of motivation may involve providing a comfortable cafeteria or a break room with comfortable furniture and lots of white boards where employees can relax and brainstorm together.

Creating an environment where workers can realize their peak performance is a necessary action towards achieving your vision. Such positive actions make your vision more realistic for team members. An enabling environment also allows members the freedom of creativity. Think of how many ways Google has shaped the internet. From advanced search algorithms to revolutionizing online marketing with AdWords; having an environment that nurtures innovation has kept the Google vision alive and on the continuous the path to success.

How Can a Business Leader Turn Vision into Reality?

Whenever a vision is followed by action, the vision can be turned into reality. One important action of leadership is the formation of a formidable team. No single skill set is sufficient in achieving success in business. A visionary leader recognizes talent and recruits individuals with skills that complement each other and contribute to business growth.

Before any action can be turned into reality, a great deal of discipline is necessary. Discipline requires that you follow through with your purpose and direction, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks. This may require the leader to take responsibility for the team’s actions and decisions.

A visionary leader turns vision into reality by creating a vivid image of the target they need to attain and creating a specific strategic plan for the coming year. The leader details what goals the company must accomplish and the specific responsibilities of each key team member. Along the way, the leader keeps the team informed of their progress. And the leader celebrates small victories with the team, while remaining focused on the big goal.

Encourage Certain Actions for Business Growth

Visionary leaders know that if they differentiate their businesses from the competition, they can expect fast business growth. Determine what your company’s strength is and differentiate yourself using it. Make sure your team understands the value proposition of your specific brand(s) and knows how to communicate it to others.

In many cases, business growth can be achieved by avoiding what others are doing. When other businesses are driven by fear and they act accordingly, it can sometimes pay to do the opposite. Determine what others businesses are neglecting then act on it. Businesses may downsize, cutback, or reduce budgets following fears of recession. It may pay off to focus your business plan on the future, rather than copy your competition. Well planned, bold moves can create big excitement in your team and pay off with big results.

It is important to know who your customers are in order to promote business growth. Many businesses have realized that it pays more to attract only top-tier clients. Such a strategy is efficient as it can reduce advertizing and labor costs, hence leading to more profit. It makes more sense to sell to hundreds of clients for a higher profit margin, than to sell to thousands with a lower profit margin. Know your ROI and teach your team to plan accordingly.

To learn more about how to be a visionary leader, study these historic business leaders and their successes:

  • Oprah Winfrey – CEO Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey Network
  • Warren Buffet – CEO Berkshire Hathaway
  • Richard Branson – CEO Virgin Group
  • Bill Gates – Chairman Microsoft
  • Steve Jobs – CEO Apple
  • Larry Page – CEO Google
  • Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
  • Henry Ford- Ford Motors Corporation
  • Mary Kay Ash – Mary Kay Inc
  • Michael Dell – Dell inc
  • Walt Disney – Walt Disney Company
  • Milton Hershey – Hershey’s

As you study these visionaries, keep a notebook on “Things I Am Learning” and take notes on behaviors you can emulate and strategies you can use to advance your own business. Then take that knowledge and put it into action. Remember, only through action does your vision become reality.