The Most Neglected Skill of Visionaries (and How to Fix It)

Are you a visionary? I’m not talking about being a dreamer with aspirations that don’t move out of your head, but rather a visionary whose dream has legs on it. Visionaries have an unusual capacity to see what is not and begin acting as if it is. They are relentless in the face of the inevitable resistance they will experience for a heroic pursuit of their impossible.


I had the great privilege of founding an organization, setting vision and shaping the culture and actually seeing it come to be. When I transitioned from that role two years ago, I was honored to hear people describe our culture as the most authentic and healthy they had been a part of. I knew my dream with legs on it had taken off running.

One of our values at GiANT is heroic goals: WHO SAYS WE CAN’T? I love that! Visionaries are stubborn. Failure is an opportunity to call an audible and get after a new plan.

I’ve learned from and apprenticed true visionaries for the past 8 years. Visionaries have all sorts of baggage and challenges to work through. We can be too abstract, too scattered, move too fast, and a host of other too’s. I would say, though, that the most neglected skill of visionaries is the capacity to shift from pushing out vision by giving direction to pulling people in for coaching and collaboration.

The most neglected skill of visionaries is the capacity to shift from pushing out vision by giving direction to pulling people in for coaching and collaboration.

Visionaries are great at pushing: We can tell you what needs to be done, how to do it and get you set in the right direction. Oftentimes, however, we’re not so great at pulling people in for coaching and collaboration. We are arrogant! “What could you add to my already 20/20 vision?” (Really sick, I know!) We over-assess our ability to communicate direction and expectations up front and underestimate the need to pull people in for check-ins, fresh direction, visioning time and troubleshooting.

Why do we do this? We view vision more as an event than a process!  When we think of vision casting, we think of pulling all staff together for an event more than we think of conversations over cups of coffee. We wrongly think big, not small. We think organizational revolution through mass communication rather than individual evolution through viral conversations.

Here’s the fix: If you are a visionary and you haven’t learned this lesson yet, please do; don’t underestimate your need to continually pull people in for vision-related coaching and collaboration. It is the secret sauce of seeing ownership and creativity flourish. You need to see everyone in your organization as a vision carrier who has a unique capacity to be a vision caster. This will help you see the value of investing more time pulling people in for coaching and collaboration and less time overemphasizing pushing out vision.

Question to ponder: What are other skills that you would say are the most neglected for visionary leaders to consider?