Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

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.

10 Comments

  1. Dan Williams on January 10, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Thank you Mark. I appreciate your time

  2. Wallace Alexander on January 12, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Great stuff now if only I could pay for getting active. Maybe not at a lower price but as I can afford the price. If I could spread out the payments to something that I can truly afford each month or each week or however that would be even greater. Even though this would add to my bills it wouldn’t seem like a bill if I could spread the payments out further. If I could do that I would gladly participate

  3. Kate Modiba on January 13, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    This is what I needed today.

  4. Heidi Maduhu on January 14, 2020 at 2:28 am

    This was definitely for me but I suppose the urgency of the financial reality will force many of us to run around chasing shiny objects like chickens with our heads cut off! What a disorganized mess of a picture! And yet, we say in 2020 we want different results! 🙁

    Truly a challenging one but if I take anything as application from this piece, it’ll be – I will FIGHT. Fight for the time to get the vision down and tweaked because without it, I’ll never be as great as my ambition desires.

    Like Nelson said, I’ll just be passing the time away….

    Thank you, Mark.

  5. Rodney Ngoni on January 14, 2020 at 6:49 am

    wow, thank you for the lesson on Vision.

  6. Tim Ryan on January 14, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Often we think of vision as a quality that only the leader at the top of an organization must possess. After all, the vast majority of us work and serve in roles that support the overarching vision of a founder, president, CEO or senior leader. However, I’ve witnessed administrative assistants and custodians who inspired and moved people into action with clarity and purpose.

    Vision is an important aspect of “leading up,” so it’s an important quality to cultivate in emerging leaders wherever they sit on the org chart. Throughout my career path, mentors taught me to develop vision that aligns with the organization–and then they encouraged me to cast my vision for others around me–downward, horizontally and even upward. In the process, I discovered that the clarity and purpose that accompany vision are the seeds that produce collaboration!

    • Dan Williams on January 15, 2020 at 4:55 pm

      Vision has to start at the top and work downward. Their must be 100% agreement

      • Tim Ryan on January 15, 2020 at 5:43 pm

        I would not entirely disagree with you Dan. The overarching Vision (upper case V) of any organization needs to be communicated and modeled from the top. The more clearly and completely that Vision is communicated and modeled, the more it will saturate the entire organization. It’s one thing to get 100% agreement from everyone in an org, but it’s quite another to get 100% ownership from them!

        I would still contend that people throughout an organization can develop and use the leadership quality of vision (lower case v) to inspire and motivate people in their sphere of influence.

        • Dan Williams on January 15, 2020 at 6:05 pm

          I agree

  7. IBRAHIM NGUGI GATIMU on September 26, 2020 at 4:16 am

    Excellent. You must start with the end in mind. Without vision, people perish.

    Thanks for the great revelation and insight.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.