Here’s the second in our series aiming to simplify the maze of leadership theories – by highlighting common themes and findings that are supported by robust research.
Truth no. 2: Great leaders unite others behind a clear future vision
Successful leaders have a clear long-term vision that they are able to explain and sell to others to achieve great outcomes.
Research tells us that great leaders:
- hold a strong vision for the future (Ou et al, 2014 – Humility; Judge & Bono, 2000 – Transformational)
- are able to create a shared vision and values (Ou et al, 2014 – Humility)
- use their vision to create enthusiasm, build confidence and trust, and to motivate and inspire followers (Judge & Bono, 2000 – Transformational; Kirkpatrick and Locke, 2000 Charismatic)
- focus on long-term results and mission (Collins 2005, – Humility; House, 1977 – Charismatic)
- encourage others to identify with the bigger picture (the team or organisation) rather than with the leader themselves, in order to increase levels of empowerment and the desire to achieve the collective vision (Kark et al 2003, Transformational)
The successful leaders I speak to in my practice do look to the long-term, often despite the pressure of achieving short-term results. They are able to involve others in defining some elements of the long-term plan.
The successful leaders I speak to in my practice do look to the long-term, often despite the pressure of achieving short-term results. They are able to involve others in defining some elements of the long-term plan. They generally take a collaborative approach and are also comfortable delegating responsibility, so that others feel bought into the mission and have a sense of ownership. Whilst it is helpful to be able to communicate the vision in an inspirational way, “charisma” per se is much less important than the willingness to share, listen to ideas and trust others to do their bit.
This article has some interesting anecdotal examples of ‘visioning’ https://hbr.org/2007/02/in-praise-of-the-incomplete-leader
- Collins, J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review, 83(7), 136-146.
- House, R.J. (1977). A 1976 theory of charismatic leadership. In J. G. Hunt &L. L. Larson (Eds.). Leadership: The cutting edge (pp. 189-207). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
- Judge, T.A., & Bono, J.E. (2000). Five-factor model personality and transformational leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(5), 751-765.
- Kark, R., Shamir, B., & Chen, G. (2003). The two faces of transformational leadership: empowerment and dependency. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(2), 246-255.
- Kirkpatrick, S.A., & Locke, E.A. (1996). Direct and indirect effects of three core charismatic leadership components on performance and attitudes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 36-51.
- Ou, A.Y., Tsui, A.S., Kinicki, A.J., Waldman, D.A., Xiao, Z., & Song, L.J. (2014). Humble Chief Executive Officers’ Connections to Top Management Team Integration and Middle Managers’ Responses. Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(1), 34-72.
- Stein, S.J., & Book, H.E. (2011). Emotional Intelligence and Your Success: Third Edition. Ontario: John Wiley & Sons.