On Wednesday, I was the keynote speaker and morning program facilitator for the Brain Injury Association of America’s State Affiliates Leadership Conference. My keynote topic was Visionary Leadership and this was followed by a series of related group activities. I had a great time and enjoyed the enthusiastic feedback I got from participants.
Today I’d like to share some of the key points of my address with you. I started with this definition by Burt Nanus - “Leaders are people who have their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.” I talked about how there really is a lot of “hard thinking” that goes into visionary leadership and used Bill Gates as an example. Bill goes off to his isolated cabin in the woods twice a year for a week and reads and thinks about the future. Microsoft employees submit white papers with their ideas for the future of Microsoft and along with this and published books, Bill spends his days concentrating on the future. Bill Gates gets it – being a visionary leader requires taking the time to do “Hard Thinking.” That really is different than just dreaming, although there should be a healthy dose of dreaming also happening.
I go on to talk about how the connection between Visionary Leadership and being an effective leader is related to our ability to turn our vision into a shared vision for the organization – and to let go of it as ours as we see it shaped into a shared vision. Once something becomes a shared vision then it is on the road to becoming a reality. The importance of being able to express our vision in such a way that people can visualize it cannot be underestimated. The next important step on the path to being an effective, visionary leader is communications. In my remarks I use a detailed example of John Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon by the end of the 60’s. I also discuss how all of this causes and requires commitment and the huge financial and human commitment made to putting a man on the moon.
There’s more of course, but there is only so much you can say in a blog post. I thoroughly enjoyed working with BIAA and the wonderful warm weather in San Antonio, Texas. They are a great group of visionary and committed people who do have their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.
If you would like to have me deliver a Keynote at your event, please give me a call!
Marion Conway Consulting