In his book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, the final quality John Maxwell describes is vision. While other 20 qualities help us understand a leader’s make up, it’s the final quality that helps us understand what makes a leader attractive.
Without vision, a leader cannot lead. It is the quintessential piece of leadership.
Think about it: People don’t stay on course for something they cannot see and they don’t give their best to something they cannot understand. You have to see the dream in order to seize it.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to see the vision and communicate it effectively so that your people can help you seize it. Nelson Mandela once said, “Action without vision is only passing time. Vision without action is merely daydreaming. But vision with action can change the world.”
So, where does vision come from?
1. Vision comes from within.
John Maxwell says, “You can’t buy, beg, or borrow vision. It has to come from the inside.” Leaders go first—and that starts with setting aside plenty of time to craft a vision. Don’t expect a vision to fall from the sky by accident. Vision is to be found inside the leader.
2. Vision comes from your history.
Confucius said, “Study the past if you would define the future.” Vision doesn’t come in a vacuum. Good leaders use the experiences from their past to inform the direction of their future.
3. Vision should meet the needs of another.
If your vision only serves you, it’s too small. True vision reaches past what one person can accomplish. And it does more than just include others—it adds value to them. Find a vision that meets the needs of others.
Simon Sinek said, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.”
The best leaders see and communicate their vision clearly. If the leader communicates a fuzzy picture, then people will follow in a fuzzy way. A lack of clarity will hinder initiative, weaken persistence, and undermine follow-through.
When it comes to vision, the leader has to see it first. And that’s a process that cannot be rushed. I want to encourage you as we begin 2020, fight for the time you need to get a clear picture of where you are trying to go. Write it down, map it out, and tweak it until it’s clear.
I remember John Maxwell sharing a simple yet profound insight several years ago from John Fleming, an architect in Dallas. Fleming said, “If you’re an architect, you can’t start building a project until you’ve finished it.” In other words, you need to see and know the end before you start.
The best leaders have the clearest vision. It’s an indispensable part of their leadership.