I my next few posts, I am beginning a series entitled, “Leadership 101.” I will start by saying that if you are a leader, if you are going to influence others to reach something positively, you must have a vision.
In the book The truth about leadership, leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner (2010) say that focus on the future sets leaders apart. According to the authors’ research, when faced with the scenario of a new leader entering their organization, the second most common question followers asked was: “What’s your vision?” This question is not one that followers ask of their teammates or peers, but only of their leaders, emphasizing the important of a leader’s vision. To have a vision, leaders must be able to “imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities” (p.46). Walt Disney said, “Vision is a kind of fun to do the impossible.”
God has given you the ability to imagine. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Napoleon Bonaparte said, “Imagination rules the world.” There is a tremendous power in your imagination. If you are a leader, you need a vision.
The Bible addresses the need of vision in leadership. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This verse, often poorly cited, does not refer to have a paper full of ideas for the future. It speaks to leading based on the imagination of a better future. This is how a leader can help his people.
How do you develop an imagination and an articulation of exciting possibilities of a better future? Six suggestions:
First: Ask for vision – Pray! James 1:5 says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Visionary leaders begin their dreams with God. “Lord, what is your plan? What is your idea of a better future here? What is your idea about a better accomplishment of our mission?” Ask God.
Second: Capture the vision – Watch and listen other leaders! Joshua 1. When God gave Joshua a vision for a better future, He redirected him to Moses. Verse 7 says, “Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you”. This is called “capture the vision”. Visionary leaders capture other people good ideas to imagine and articulate future possibilities. Our creativity is not 100% ours. Visionary leaders incorporate the ideas from others.
Third: Understand the vision – Stretch your imagination! Ephesians 3:20 (CEV) says that “God power at work in us can do far more than we dare ask or imagine.” The vision could be bigger than us, but God is bigger than our vision. We must dare to imagine a better future, despite of our resources. What is the greatest thing that you can imagine in your life? God says, “I can outdo it!”
Fourth: Catalyze the vision – Set goals! Philippians 3:14 (NIV) says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me”. Goals are statements of faith with a time for accomplishment. Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for”. It is not something vague. A goal is focused (specific), attainable (realistic), individual (for you), traceable (measurable), and heart-felt (motivating).
Fifth: Stoke the vision – Visualize the results! Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) says, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Vision is to see things not seen.Visualize the results.
Sixth: Execute the vision – Do it! The difference between achievers and dreamers is focused action. Don’t waste your time. Proverbs 27:1 (Good News) “Never boast about tomorrow. You don’t know what will happen between now and then.” You only have 24 hour blocks to do what you have to do.
Leaders “imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities.” You must have to get a vision today. Use your imagination, articulate it, and do it!
Irving A. Figueroa
Adjunct Professor of Congregational Leadership
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2010). The truth about leadership: The no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts you need to know. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.