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Vision in Leadership : what is it?

Updated: 7 days ago

What sets great leaders apart from others is their ability to see what others don't see, their vision.

Vision is a strange concept. It goes beyond a simple objective or goal. While goals simply indicate what we want to achieve, vision is a bigger picture that describes our most cherished dreams, hopes and ambitions.

So, what is the definition of leadership through vision?

Vision, in leadership, is:

1. Seeing the possibilities

leadership vision

Great leaders have this ability to see possibilities that others do not.

Where most of us only see a phone, a leader will see a product that can change people's lives and revolutionize the way we interact.

Where we see an office with space for tables and chairs, a leader will see a place where magic happens.

Where we see people with names and titles, leaders see key figures in their business strategy.

George Bernard Shaw illustrates it this way:

"Some people see things as they are and ask why? I see things as they are not and ask why not?"

2. Having a clear and compelling vision

Famed management author Warren Bennis was fascinated by the ability of leaders to see what the average person cannot.

He conducted interviews with 90 top U.S. leaders to determine the characteristics they had in common.

Bennis discovered that, despite their different backgrounds, disciplines and circumstances, these people all had one thing in common: a clear and compelling vision of what they wanted to achieve.

For them, this vision was not a “maybe”. It wasn’t something that would “someday” happen. Their vision was as clear and as grounded in the present as if it had been right before their eyes.

vision in leadership - a man walking on the moon

3. Having a limitless vision

Great leaders put no limits on their vision. They work towards making their wildest dream come true, even though they know it may not come true in their lifetime.

It is said that during the opening ceremony of the first Disney World in 1971, two Disney executives were talking.

One said: "It's a shame Walt couldn't be there to see this."

The other replied, "You're wrong. Walt saw it. That's why we're here today..."

vision in leadership - walt disney

While most of us have difficulty seeing more than three months ahead, exceptional leaders can see years ahead.

One of the best-known examples of this long-term vision is Japanese industrialist Konosuke Matsushita (founder of Panasonic) who developed a 250-year plan for his company in 1932.

4. Knowing how to attract others

Leaders don’t just have a vision of what’s possible; they know how to articulate it and attract others.

They use metaphors, images and stories that inspire in their employees the desire to be part of something great by contributing to the company's mission.

Compare the visions of two major soft drink companies in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century with their definitions of leadership that are certainly very different:

One was a Boston-based company called Moxies. His mission was to sell herbal drinks. Nothing to get excited about...

advertising for Moxie drink

The other soda company's (Atlanta-based) stated mission was to quench a nation's thirst with a delicious, refreshing beverage. That company was Coca Cola.

advertising for Coca-Cola drink

5. Knowing how to take action.

In our definition of leadership , without action, visions are just dreams.

But with action and the ability to see the steps between where we are and where we want to go, dreams come true.

Has your boss ever asked you to focus on the big picture when all you saw at the time was the pile of work you had to complete in a very short time, the problems in the production system and the lack of personnel that you had to manage?

Your manager shared his helicopter vision with you.

Imagine that you are the pilot of a helicopter that has not yet taken off and is still firmly planted on the helipad. Your vision is limited to what you can see through the windshield.

However, once you take off, your field of vision will improve in all directions, and you will be able to see not only the ground and its surroundings, but also any changes in weather heading your way.

Based on this broad view of your surroundings and upcoming events, you are best equipped to decide where you want to go and what path you will take.

vision in leadership - helicopter


We all dream, but few of us remember our dreams over time. Many who remember their dreams kill them by calling them unrealistic (I dream of.... but it's impossible because...).

Leaders are different. They see the possibilities, formulate them in a clear and attractive way, motivate others to work to make that dream a reality, and develop an effective action plan through helicopter vision and long-term vision. This is Vision in Leadership.


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