The most respected leaders in the business world are those who head up corporations with a vision

The most respected leaders in the business world are those who head up corporations with a vision. That vision is a direct result of the leader’s ability to be a visionary. Any leader who fails to do this is destined to ride that company right into the ground. The business world today changes too quickly for businesses to have a passive approach. The C-Level executives must provide their organizations with a vision for the future.

I once was associated with an enterprise that was run by a gentleman who came from the operation’s side of the business. Over the years he ascended to the top of the organizational chart. His years spent in operations made him exceptional at handling any issues. Anything that arose he was able to take care of. It almost seemed that he was not comfortable unless there was some problem to be attacked. He could juggle 3 or 4 fires simultaneously. Looking back, I am still amazed at this individual’s skill in this area.

However, being the leader of a corporation of this size required a different type of person. As terrific as he was at handling issues, he was equally as poor at creating a vision for the future. This company suffered from a corporate culture that was old and tired. Morale was low which affected productivity. Department heads all had twenty plus years with the organization yet their attitudes were horrific. Nonetheless, years went by before all of this was exposed. This company experienced significant growth for more than a decade using an antiquated vision. Training and technology were not heavily promoted. Ironically, this company operated in a high tech industry. As you can imagine, the exposure came when the economy made a dramatic shift. All the weaknesses were highly magnified. The flaws of the old system showed how ineffective the entire company was. Sales were reduced to levels not seen in almost two decades.

Where did this leader go wrong? To begin with, he broke the first rule of running a company: don’t work in the business, work on the business. All his time was spent attending to matters within the course of the business. There was nobody working on the business. Instead of spending a large portion of his time developing strategies, the day was filled handling one detail after another. Secondly, since the focus was within, a major shift in the marketplace was missed. Naturally, this is not the first executive to fall prey to this. Yet, companies today need leaders who are willing to look out into the future and see what things will look like 5 or 10 years from now. Warren Buffet does this before he buys a company. He figures out where the market will be, not where it is presently.

Being a visionary is something that the business world is looking for. As mentioned, the world of business changes too rapidly. With globalization comes a completely new set of rules. Agility is the key factor. The dinosaurs of the past are being gobbled up almost daily. Take the furniture industry as an example. For decades, the largest manufacturers of furniture we located in North Carolina. However, 10 years ago started the shift in production to China. Today, because of the lower cost of labor, most of the furniture sold in this country is made overseas. A visionary leader would notice something like this. Someone who is spending his or her time working in the business is apt to miss it.

If you are in a leadership position, be a visionary. Determine where you want your organization to be 5, 10, and 20 years down the road. What will your corporate culture look like? Are the people in place to make that happen? Are there factors that could cause a major shift in your industry? What are they? How does technology affect your business? Can it be used to give you a competitive advantage? Is the attitude one that will move your organization to the next level? Finally, what skills do you need to acquire to be able to run a corporation that you are creating? It is important that your abilities go at a rate faster than your company.

Once your vision is set, it is time to ‘sell’ it to your employees. How to go about doing this is explained in the follow up to this article on our website. Go to and click on the ‘free download’ section. Once logged in, it is under the heading of Visionary. The follow up article is ‘Selling Your Vision’.

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