Characteristics of Visionaries

Rick Davis. John Phillips. Rick Sather. Philippe Lambotte. Jerry Wolfe. Dick Clark. What do they have in common? They are all visionaries that I have had the opportunity to work with over the last decade. As an analyst, I have been active in the industry for over 15 years. I spend my days on advisory calls and answering questions about the evolution of technologies and processes. Each call is focused on a different topic, but the cadence and the energy in a call with a visionary is different than a regular call.

In my work as an analyst, I triangulate markets and write about new technologies. I love innovation and I write for supply chain visionaries. While I have seen many ‘programs of the day’ come and go, the conversations with the visionaries stay with me. I remember the day and place of the many conversations that led to break-through thinking. While the participant in the traditional conversation asks for references and a guaranteed ROI for the project, the visionary is looking for true innovation. There is a burning platform and a want to deliver business results. The conversation centers on possibilities not barriers. What does it take? From these interactions, I share my thoughts on nine characteristics I have seen in change management leaders. The visionary is:
  1. Someone That Sees What Could Be. Visionaries are not stuck in the here and now. Instead, they aggressively work to see what can be. They don’t design processes based on today’s technologies. Instead, they survey the market and ask themselves how to use new technologies to drive new results.
  2. A Person That Skillfully Navigates the Politics. While many projects get snarled in corporate politics and IT standardization, visionaries can work through the issues to get the project funded. They sidestep the issues and when the project is being implemented, they are also good at marketing the projects. The active internal marketing campaigns help ignite a guiding coalition.
  3. A Leader That Exudes Infectious Energy. When you talk to a visionary, you cannot help but get excited — it is infectious.
  4. Demonstrates Courage. They think differently and challenge the status quo.
  5. Driven and Hungry for Information. They cannot get enough information. They ask brilliant questions and push to know more. Often the visionary will follow-up after the call with many e-mails to ask for more information to help them formalize their vision.
  6. Actively Participates in Industry Forums. The visionaries tend to be outside in. They appreciate learning from others and are active in industry forums and are frequent speakers.
  7. Bridges Functional Barriers. The visionaries understand that to succeed that they need to be great influential leaders and bridge the gaps between functions. As a result, you will see them at events. They lead through storytelling and the interjection of humor.
  8. Customer Centric. Visionary leaders understand the needs of the customer and that the best levels of customer service do not happen on the back of heroics. Instead, they understand that there is a need for a disciplined, and focused approach to managing customer service with a need to focus on a profitable response. Reliability matters. This understanding is paramount for the industry leader.
  9. Patience. Change happens in small increments on a journey of continuous improvement. The leaders understand that it is not a big bang approach. Instead, the focus is on the evolution of processes and the weaving of technologies into the fabric of the business.

These are my thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at [email protected].