Visionary Leadership

By Chad Hershberger

“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” —Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

Leadership means dealing with the past, present, and future. As a leader, you must look to the past and learn from events that happened. As a leader, you must make decisions now, as events are unfolding. As a leader, it is important to envision and set a course for the future.

One of the biblical characters that I think did that well was Moses. He lead the Israelites to the promised land. He got people on board with his vision and together they journeyed. In fact, as the story goes, Moses never entered the Promised Land. He saw it, but it was his followers, not him, who got there.

And so, just like Moses, good leaders must be visionary. As our verse from Proverbs reminds us, it is important to have a vision. Without it, the people will perish! That may sound harsh, but I think that we can look at it this way: without a vision, followers will not be energized and will not do their best.

Visionary leaders also need to be managers. Moses had to get people to buy into his vision, but then he also needed to manage the journey there. The Israelites encountered many obstacles on their way to the Promised Land. At each turn, Moses needed to be a cheerleader and remind them what they were working towards. He also had to be part of the process. Moses didn’t say to the people, “Here is the vision. Go do it.” Instead, he walked with them. He could give them encouragement and feedback along the way because he was part of the journey with them. He tried to help them do their very best.

I would imagine that Moses was accessible to his followers, too. From several of the stories about him, we know that the people came to him and asked questions and sought guidance. I’m sure Moses also made time for his followers, never being too busy to talk with them and help them problem-solve.

Part of being a visionary leader also means being able to communicate that vision. Leaders need to clearly communicate to their followers. This means expressing yourself clearly, especially your expectations.

Ponder this quote about leadership:

“Leadership is understanding people and involving them to help you do a job. That takes all of the good characteristics, like integrity, dedication of purpose, selflessness, knowledge, skill, implacability, as well as a determination not to accept failure.”

—Admiral Arleigh Burke