I have an eye appointment next Tuesday after school. My eyes are getting worse very quickly and the glasses I have just aren’t cutting it anymore. I am not happy about having to get new glasses (they cost money!), but our Health Spending Account should cover most of that. Anyway, as I sit here at my computer and having to push my chair back so I can make out what I’m typing, I got to thinking about vision.
One of my Professional Growth Plan goals for the year is around the Principal Quality Standard of “Embodying Visionary Leadership.” As I was thinking about my eyesight, this connection came to mind. And as my mind is prone to wandering the question came to mind as to whether everyone can be visionary.
After doing a bit of research and taking time to think, I’ve come up with what makes a person a visionary.
- Understand the differences between having vision and being visionary – Just because you have a vision for something, doesn’t make you visionary. Everyone has vision. They have a goal for what they would like to see happen, but no real plan for implementation. Many people have a vision for a Utopian world, but do very little about it.
- Clarity of vision – A clear idea of where you want to be and details around how to get there are necessary. If your vision of the future is clear, getting there will be a lot more possible.
- Visionary leadership is about being a problem solver – to make progress as someone who is a visionary, there has to be the ability to solve problems. You have to be able to analyze the problem, look for solutions and work to make them happen. Being a problem solver is about learning from mistakes. A visionary is constantly working to make things better.
- Visionaries show rather than tell – A long time ago I heard the phrase, “If it is to be, it is up to me.” I try to always picture myself in a situation that I will be responsible for placing others in. I try to do join in on tasks that I am asking others to participate in. If I’m not willing to complete a task, why should I expect others to take it on? If I expect people to move forward I better be in the crowd working just as hard as anyone else.
- Willing to take a risk – I’ve already alluded to risk taking. Implicit in risk taking, is the acceptance of failures along the way. Accept failures in yourself and in others. However, failures have to be viewed as an opportunity to learn A number of years ago at an AISI (btw, I miss AISI) conference, I first heard the term ‘failing forward’. That is the attitude we need to have. Our failures move us forward in our growth journey.
- Desire to positively affect others – If our vision only benefits ourselves, it’s not the kind of vision I am talking about. In my role as an educational leader, the vision I have for my school and community, has to benefit as many as possible. It needs to benefit current and future students and hopefully the staff and community as well.
I think I have helped to move my school forward, and in my journey as a leader, I hope to continue that at this school or whatever school I maybe placed in in the future. Our Leader in Me program has been an interesting journey that we are still working on, and will hopefully always continue to work on. That process alone has taught me the importance of having a vision and working to make it happen. Having a goal is essential. If you’re not aiming for something, you don’t hit anything.
Can everyone be visionary? I don’t think so; not without some effort and mindfulness in the process.