Amazeballz Stories Day 39/100: No Visionary Leaders Needed

Being a leader is insanely hard.

You have major projects which need to be done. The resources are limited. The team is fractured. Everyone needs to coalesce and be motivated to work together in a sustainable way. You need to figure out who is good at what and provide structure, feedback and steady strength.

Oh, yeah, and you are supposed to have a BIG VISION.

Vision seems to be the thing we look for in leadership. We look for the person who can tell the best story about the future is looked up to as the person who can make the biggest difference and therefore should be in charge.

This is crazy thinking.

A big vision is like a stage magician’s trick. It looks cool. Flashy. Memorable. It takes imagination and flair to pull it off well. But it is only an illusion. It is simply a picture, an image, an IDEA of something magical.

We have created a cult of personality around vision. When someone presents a great vision for a shared future, the hive community gets excited and rallies around that image. We have been taught that the shared vision is the most important thing. It is what makes the new cool thing possible.

That is kind of true. But not so much as you think it is.

We think that we should invest our time and support to BIG visions rather than little ideas, because the biggest ideas will do the most good. That is simply not the way the world works.

We do NOT need to have a huge vision to rally together around an idea that matters. Many great (hugely successful) companies began as a much smaller idea. You Tube was originally a dating website. G-mail was a small interoffice communications tool. So many fortune 500 companies started with a simple vision and over time they iterated their way to a much biggest version of success. Their success was built on a simple strategy: Be great at what you do in a small space. When you succeed at that, bigger spaces will open up to you naturally.

Visionary leaders exhort us to do the very opposite. When we are lead by a huge vision, we focus on the biggest piece of the pie possible and huge gestures, which take major energy and draw focus away from the core of every successful enterprise: the basics.

When we lose sight of being great at our core business — connecting with our customers and meeting their core needs with great communication and simple brilliantly executed products and services — we throw away the only sustainable part of the project.

I want leadership with less vision of that far away possible future and more FOCUS.

When a leader focuses on the small and vital details of business, the entire hive co-creates a vision for a sustainable future. It happens more slowly but that vision will grow and be spread in the most sustainable and organic fashion.

Great leaders focus:

  • Focus on the group of customers in front of us right now and how to serve them the best possible product.
  • Focus on nimbleness and the ability to make things better in many small iterations.
  • Focus on community and building an empowered hive of raving fans who care about the work and the product.
  • Focus on listening. Listen to the hive. Listen to the consumer. Listen to the always shifting environment.
  • Focus on building a team that is able to incorporate each members strengths and support one another.
  • Focus on self awareness and are willing to do the work to become a better leader and manager.

I no longer look for visionary leaders. Vision is great for stirring inspiration and pulling the hive together. I love visionaries. I want them on my team. I just prefer that they not be in charge.

When it comes to working a long plan with people who will be able to powerfully support each other over time — give me a quiet leader. A focused leader. A nimble leader. An empowering leader. A listening leader.

Leaders wanted: No visionaries need apply.

Hi! I’m Mary Lucus Flannery — a chiropractor, a writer, a marketer, and a teacher.

I am the founder of The Art of Story Project, an online business which coaches speakers and content creators to use story to become more powerful influencers.

Amazeballz Stories is a writing project where I share a story about what I am learning every day. I am challenging myself to know my truth and speak my truth — in public — every day.

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