To be a good leader, you need to be a visionary—someone who can imagine the future with drive and insight.
But what if you already inspire people and lead them in the direction of success without even knowing it?
You know…some of the greatest leaders are often unaware of the power and the effect they have on people.
So, if you don’t know for sure if you have leadership qualities or not, I’m here to tell you the 15 signs you’re a visionary leader (even if you don’t think you are)!
1) You’re open-minded
Being open-minded is crucial to being a visionary. A narrow mind will not allow you to see the nuances and different possibilities of future situations.
Thus, not only will you likely fail to think of creative solutions, you might brush off your team’s ideas and suggestions too. Would you like to work with a leader like that?
I know I wouldn’t!
So, if you can pride yourself in being open to the world, to new people and their ideas–it’s a sign you can potentially be a visionary leader!
2) Staying present, you see things more clear
Although being a visionary is all about envisioning the future, staying focused and grounded in the present is a key prerequisite for that.
After all, how can you foresee the future without understanding the here and now? How can you ensure a tomorrow if today is a failure?
This is how visionary leaders are able to provide their teams and followers with a strong sense of stability. People know they can rely on their leaders to empower them, both now and in the future.
If you stand strong on your feet and see a clear path for the future–you’re a visionary leader.
3) Communication is your strong side
Being able to envision the future isn’t worth anything if you can’t—or aren’t willing to— communicate that vision to your team!
Communicating effectively is another critical skill every visionary header has.
And after all, if it’s an ambitious enough dream, then it needs a collective effort to achieve.
Anyone who thinks they can accomplish everything on their own is either delusional or overly egotistic—two traits that a good leader definitely should not have!
When I was developing my leadership skills, communication was my strongest side. It just came to me naturally–I could feel what and when to say.
But a lot of people struggle with it even if they have other important qualities to be a visionary leader.
So, if you’re one of them–take a course, or read a few books on effective communication.
This is the skill you can and should develop!
4) God, you’re persistent!
Do you have a clear idea of the future you want to attain?
Then you know you can’t afford to wallow in regret about hiccups and mistakes. You learn from your experience and keep going.
You try again and again until you reach your goal and your persistence inspires others.
That’s what makes you a good leader.
There will always be obstacles to every goal. A reliable and determined leader is their team’s anchor, carrying them through tough times. If not for them–the team would lose motivation very fast.
5) You’re not afraid to fail…and rise again
Speaking of mistakes and hiccups…
Visionaries fully acknowledge that they will experience failure at one point or another.
But guess what?
That doesn’t bother them.
Failure doesn’t stop visionary leaders from keeping steadfast, persistent, and focused as they work with their team toward their goals.
They know failures and setbacks are inevitable parts of the process.
In fact, they know they might even be necessary for the journey. Because sometimes, it is only through failure people learn what it truly takes to fulfill a great vision.
After all, effectively envisioning the future involves:
- Seeing the big picture;
- Acknowledging nuances and contradictions;
- Recognizing the links between different factors;
- Preparing for possible obstacles and setbacks.
If you’re not afraid to fail and rise again, you have a strong leadership side to you.
6) Taking risk? It doesn’t scare you
If taking risks is your second nature–welcome to the visionary leaders club.
Of course, risks can sometimes result in setbacks—but they also lead to pivotal moments of learning and progress.
While others might have second thoughts or lack the willpower to go into the unknown, a true leader will test the waters and lead their team confidently.
While a good leader won’t play it safe all the time, this doesn’t mean they’re reckless. They will only take reasonable, calculated risks that have true potential.
7) You’re passionate
The main reason visionary leaders can keep their cool even while taking risks and experiencing difficulty is because of their positive attitude.
They are passionate and spirited about their vision.
This energy is infectious and allows the team and followers to work with as much enthusiasm as the leader does. They inspire them, motivate them, and lead them by example.
So, if you see the opportunities when others see only downsides–congrats! You’re most likely a visionary leader.
8) There’s a certain magnetic aura around you
Through their passion, visionary leaders are able to attract—and keep!—people that are like-minded and share the same vision.
This type of leader has a certain charm to them. They emanate a magnetic aura: they are confident and genuine but still calm and easy to be with.
Thus, people love working with them. They share the leader’s optimism and energy, which allows them to be the best version of themselves.
Sounds like you? That’s a good sign.
9) You’re very organized
A clear vision will only remain a vision if you can’t execute plans effectively. A good visionary leader, therefore, needs to be organized and detail-oriented.
They need to have great management and people skills to optimize how their team functions and maximize productivity.
Additionally, a sloppy leader is just not inspirational to work with, right?
Who would want to help you achieve your vision if you don’t even seem to put in the hard work yourself?
So, if you’re an achiever and a very organized one–take a step forward and look into that leadership position you wanted to apply for but didn’t do it yet.
10) You’re big-picture oriented
A visionary is characterized by their ability to see the big picture. They have a bird’s eye view of how the various related factors interact to create the overall situation.
Make no mistake. This doesn’t mean that they don’t pay attention to the details.
It’s actually the opposite: their oversight allows them to be aware of every single detail.
However, they don’t get worried about smaller concerns—like getting caught up in errors or stressing over setbacks.
Rather, visionary leaders enjoy the process for what it is and patiently watch as everything gradually unfolds.
11) Learning from others is your strong habit
Visionary leaders understand that there is more than one way to achieve their vision. They’re willing and ready to adjust to unforeseen circumstances and learn on the fly.
What’s more, they don’t shy away from learning from others. While some people may see it as a weakness, visionary leaders gather interesting ideas and help others get recognized for them.
Do you listen to other people’s ideas and suggestions with enthusiasm? Do you get inspired by new perspectives? Is your mind constantly seeking ways how implement a unique vision?
All of these things is a strong side that you’re a visionary leader.
12) Visionary leaders are team-players
There’s something very attractive about being the leader, but at the end of the day, leaders are just part of the team.
They know they have their own strengths and weaknesses and fully understand that it takes a proper collective effort to achieve their vision.
They are not egotistic or think too highly of themselves. They’re humble but confident, hard-working, and positive.
They don’t just order people around—they work with the team as a part of the team.
I hope you see yourself as a part of a team rather than a dictator over the masses. This is a way to go.
13) You have high emotional intelligence
A person’s emotional intelligence refers to how well they can assess and act on both their own and other people’s emotions.
Here’s a classic example in the workplace:
A boss or leader with good emotional intelligence skills will sense if one of the employees is showing signs of being overwhelmed and on the edge of being burnt out.
But someone with great emotional intelligence skills will go one step further, make an effort, and try to proactively help the employee to deal with the situation.
This is a key reason why visionary leaders are good team players. No one will want to work with a leader who is inconsiderate. Once again: I know I wouldn’t!
14) Visionary leaders aren’t scared of responsibility
While a leader will always rely on their team, they understand that they’re ultimately responsible for the team’s success. They will not shirk the responsibility but take it on fully.
Visionary leaders are dead serious about their vision. They’re not just slacking off or making other people do all the work for them.
It means holding accountable not only other people but also themselves and making sure that the responsibility is taken care of.
15) Strategic thinking is your strength
Visionary leaders have a deeply strategic mind.
Their minds are constantly buzzing about how to get ahead of the competition or other obstacles that impede them from their goal.
After all, what’s the point of having a great vision or seeing the big picture if you don’t apply that insight and knowledge to strategically plan your team’s next move?
If you’re good at strategic thinking and see a bigger picture a few steep ahead of others–you’ve got a talent! Don’t waste it!
Top tips for visionaries: how to lead well
There are, of course, different kinds of leaders. And also different kinds of leadership styles.
However, the most crucial factor to leadership that results in organizational success is one that can break through obstacles.
Since I can proudly call myself a visionary leader, from my experience, leadership can be broken down into some very particular things.
You have to know certain behaviors and strategize to lead well.
Here’s how you can do just that as a visionary leader:
- Remain resilient
Encountering obstacles or conflict (especially within the team!) can be incredibly stressful. However, you can’t make this lose your cool. Take a deep breath, process your emotions, and reflect on the situation rationally. This will ensure that you come up with the best solution possible.
- Be empathetic
In my opinion, this is what makes people truly respect you as a leader. Never dismiss your members’ concerns, grievances, or suggestions. Even if they go against your opinion, listen to them intently. And even if you still end up disagreeing, your empathy will still empower them to work well.
- Communicate well
Communication is key! — I’m sure we’re all tired of hearing this (I am too sometimes), but it really is true. Learn how to communicate your ideas succinctly but comprehensively, and ensure that you listen with intent and empathy.
- Assert yourself
You need to have a confident and assertive attitude if you want to push through boundaries and achieve your goals. No, this doesn’t mean that you should be cocky, domineering, or disrespectful. What this means is that you should believe in yourself and your ideas. Be a true professional: solid, firm, and self-assured.
What does visionary leadership look like?
Think Nelson Mandela. He is probably the best and most recognized example of great visionary leadership.
He had a strong vision for his country. He worked tirelessly with people of similar conviction to change his country for the better.
He was so inspirational that his influence reached far beyond his country. I mean, just think of how many Nelson Mandela quotes you’ve heard of!
But here’s the thing: you don’t need to be Nelson Mandela for your team. You don’t even need to be a CEO.
What you need is an unwavering belief in a vision and the ability to inspire and attract like-minded people with it.
Possible struggles of being a visionary leader
Being a visionary leader is not all glitter and glamour, however (and I hope you’ve realized by now that it really isn’t! It’s truly hard work.)
Here are a few struggles that visionaries often face.
- Misaligned goals
If your vision simply does not align with your company’s goals, then I’m sorry to say that you’re simply wasting your time. Either convince them otherwise or find another organization with more compatible values.
- Different levels of motivation
The truth is, even when among like-minded people, it’s likely that your team members may simply not be as obsessed with your vision as you are. That’s why it’s important to continuously keep inspiring them.
- Passion is not always knowledge
You may be incredibly passionate about your vision, but do you have the know-how, the wisdom, and the experience to achieve it? You may not.
But, in my opinion, that’s okay. It makes things harder, that’s for sure. And some people might be reluctant to follow you too. But who said learning can’t be part of the process? Who said your dream was less worth it?
- Compromising the present
As you work towards your vision, you may sometimes (if not often) have to choose between the present and the future. There will always be present, everyday issues to attend to—and you can’t ignore many of them. This can be incredibly frustrating. The key here is patience.
To sum up
Being a visionary is a great trait to have if you’re a leader. If you think you’re a visionary leader, I wish you all the luck as you pursue your goals.
If you think you’re not, then that’s okay! I believe in everyone’s capability to become one by honing the traits we’ve listed above. I believe in you.