Martin Peterson, based in Gothenburg, is part of the Signium Industrial and Technology Practice. With a background from the Swedish Air Force and experience from the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, Martin advises a variety of clients across the...
26 October 2023
Visionary leaders inspire others to pursue their own long-term vision, by active participation, goal setting, and communication. They roll up their sleeves up and provide real-world examples of strategic thinking, foresight and the ability to shift gears when circumstances change.
One such leader is Ursula Burns, dubbed “a veteran of corporate evolution” for her six-year tenure as CEO of Xerox, where she transformed the company once known for making paper copies into the new Xerox, an $11 billion profitable enterprise.
At the time, Burns’ comment on transformation spoke to her understanding of the process: “Transformation is not about what are you going to be, it’s about how quickly you be what you are.”
Burns became chairwoman of VEON in 2017, just as the global telecom expanded offerings to its more than 240 million customers across Asia, Africa and Europe.
Transformation begins with vision
All transformative business leaders start with a vision of what the company could be. To get crucial buy-in from management and other employees, effective communication is vital, along with the ability to encourage ownership of the process in colleagues.
Inspiring employees to accomplish organizational goals and achieve growth, these leaders usually exhibit five fundamental qualities: Strong communication skills, passion and belief, decisiveness, connection with employees individually, and a commitment to team building.
To embed a culture of transformation, the visionary leads from the front, motivating others by their actions and harnessing the individual talents of staff members to drive change.
Importantly, every leader of vision knows they are building their organisation’s future. By including all personnel in the process, meeting challenges becomes corporate culture rather than just a response to shifting global markets and economies.
Are you creating an inspirational future?
Feng Yuan, an imperial consort during China’s Han Dynasty, was famous for her assertion that “there are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage”. She was lauded for her courage – the very same traits we seek in business leaders forging new paths to future success by inspiring their teams.
Add to this EQ, which enables the handling of interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically; and a personal determination to listen and learn and you have the building blocks for the next generation of leaders.
While some suggest true leaders are born and not created, many an exceptional business leader has taken to heart the skills and suggestions of a mentor who led the organisation before, and gone on to innovate further as the next generation executive.
To encourage other employees to walk the path that deliver the most success requires inspiration, enthusiasm, motivation and trust.
The importance of visionary leaders
Martin Peterson, Industrial and Technology Practice, Signium Sweden, says the importance of visionary and relationship-oriented leadership increases, not least in times of recession, when more of a company’s focus is placed on internal issues.
“We see that much of the positive work for change that has been driven in recent years is now at risk of stopping as many companies put a greater focus on internal issues for efficiency and improvement purposes.”
Peterson asserts that it is difficult to run a cost saving program at the same time as motivating and enthusing your employees for a positive cultural change. “Leadership that can handle both vision and relationship over time, even in times of adversity, has a greater chance of succeeding in making changes in the long run.”
“The leader who engenders these traits in other employees, is the leader that will create a pathway for new visionaries to follow into a future of steady growth and pride in the company culture.”
Here, Peterson notes that leadership must drive consistent change, which requires vision, inspiration and relationship – and also perseverance. “Balancing this becomes crucial in order to bring about a lasting change. This is vital, not least in times of recession and reorganization, which we are experiencing right now.”
To be that leader requires constantly inspiring teams to meet future challenges. In a rapidly changing world where business must adapt with speed, inspiration entrenched in each individual, will provide a pathway to transformation and beyond.
Importantly, in a healthy office environment where teams are acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts with positive feedback and opportunities for development are accessible to all – employees thrive.