How is visionary leadership different from charismatic leadership?
Visionary leaders are those with a ‘vision’ – Vision exists when people in an organization share an explicit agreement on the values, beliefs, purposes and goals that should guide their behaviour.
A visionary leader has “an inspiring declaration of a compelling dream, accompanied by a clear scenario of how it will be accomplished”. A good vision not only has worthy goals, but also challenges and stretches everyone involved. Charismatic leaders too usually carry a very powerful vision.
Developing a vision is not a straightforward task of articulating a statement of beliefs and then implementing it. It is a process that requires continuous reflection, action and re- evaluation. Some people describe it as a process of ‘purposeful tinkering’ – through dozens of little experiments, “each day is an opportunity to come closer to the perceived ideal”.
Vision can spring from the mind of a strong leader with imagination, energy and charisma to jump-start the organization into a major transformation. It can also be a shared process in which everyone is a co-author.
It is good to involve subordinates in vision creation because they are the ones who must ultimately translate it into practice.
No matter who creates the vision, the leader is its chief instigator, promoter and guardian. He must take the lead and actively push so that it remains a shared vision. The visionary leader institutionalizes the vision and translates it into policies, programs and procedures.
Like in charismatic leadership, visionary leaders are able to make the impossible possible. “Nothing drives an organization like an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future.
Visionary leadership is an indispensable guide for leaders of all levels, from top executives to heads of divisions and departments, from large corporations to small businesses, from manufacturing and service organizations to government institutions.