What Is Visionary Leadership Style? Definition, Example Pros And, Cons

Mashum Mollah 1 November, 2022
Visionary Leaders

“Visionaries will always meet opposition from weak minds but the seeds they plant always save the world”

― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

Reality is often based on dreams and visions. It will be more appropriate to say that dream is the seed that visionaries sow. They ensure that it branches out into a green and healthy reality. Such is the state of mind a visionary leader posses. 

It took Lamborghini a vision to transform tractors into thrilling sports cars. Nick Woodman would not have created GoPro unless he had solved his problem and created a vision out of it. Netflix used to provide DVD rental services, but we know who they are now. From Steve Jobs’ best smartphone inventions to Elon Musk’s vision to reuse spacecraft, we must admit that vision is everywhere. 

Company culture can be anything and can follow any leadership style. However, vision needs to be a part deeply integrated into how a business operates. In this article, I have explained the visionary leadership style and how it can help you achieve the goals of your organization. 


What Is Visionary Leadership Style?

What Is Visionary Leadership Style?

A visionary leadership style passionately works towards a shared goal with a plan ready at hand. Leaders following this leadership style are Forward facing, and they inspire people towards a common goal to build something. Visionary leadership style is focused on the long-term future. it fosters a community collaborating to reach a never seen or imagined common goal. 

In its aim to achieve a goal for an organization and share a common objective, this leadership style often overlaps with the qualities of transformational leadership. A visionary leader builds his work ethic on a dream that he inspires the team members to achieve. A merit of this leadership style is to inspire the employees with the company’s objective. Inspiration, passion, and innovation are deeply connected to a visionary management style. 

The leaders following this leadership style always inspire the employees and poses a personality slightly similar to a charismatic leader. 

Background/History Of Visionary Leadership Style 

Malcolm Gladwell Quote

The term, Visionary leader, was first used by Daniel Goleman in 2002. It is a part of Goleman’s Leadership Styles Framework. Goleman lists six leadership styles that work best under certain conditions in his framework. According to him, it is “the ability to take charge and inspire with a compelling vision.” 

Goleman says that the visionary style of leadership is all about leading a company forward with a common and long-term objective that inspires the company culture and takes it forward. In addition, this management style can build an atmosphere where the members can learn, create and innovate with passion. 

The leaders share a calculated vision that people can buy into, get inspired from, and work towards the future to achieve it. Visionary leadership is deterministic, authoritative, and collaborative in nature. Employees working under a visionary leader feel a sense of unity and be part of a journey. 

Characteristics Of Visionary Leadership

Inspiring a work culture to believe in a vision is no easy task. However, a visionary leader is characterized by skilled communication, efficient risk management, planning, and the ability to turn a vision/insight into reality. Here are some characteristics that a visionary leader posses. 

Vision Or Foresight To See A Bigger Picture

George Lucas Quote

A visionary leader is always thinking ahead of time. They can assess the current challenges and predict possible problems. It helps them to bring out solutions for existing and upcoming problems. Such leaders can create new ideas and help an organization grow in the future with a futuristic vision. 

Skilled At Communication

John C. Maxwell

A visionary leader not only has a vision. They are also skillful at explaining and enviously the same vision to others. They can exhibit their plans and visions to others with their masterful communication skills, passion, and persuasive words. With strong interpretation and analytical skills, they can interpret their goals based on facts, plans, data, and dreams.

Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman

A visionary leader understands their emotions and is self-driven and self-reliant. They are bold and persistent about their dreams and visions. But their ability to keep their own emotions in check compliment their other good traits. It also enables them to understand others and sympathize and share with others. 

Passionate & Collaborative 

David Ben-G

Visionary leadership style is hugely about building upon shared dreams and goals. Such leaders possess good emotional intelligence, enabling them to collaborate and easily work with others. They can build a sense of unity among the employees and make them work towards a shared goal. 


steve jobs

A visionary leader does not only dream big. They have their creative and out-of-the-box thinking to back up their dreams. Their creative thinking makes them stand out and allows them to solve problems like no other. They are well aware of the risks. But visionary leaders want to take a calculated risk and rich a point of success.

You May Like To Know About Democratic Leadership Style

Visionary Leadership Style: What’s Good…And What’s Not So Good

In their ability to communicate, collaborate and inspire through a shared vision, a visionary leaders can be a force to be reckoned with. However, there are certain flaws as there are noticeable merits. Here are some pros and cons to better understand the visionary leadership style. 

The Benefits Of Visionary Leadership Style: Pros

Eric Hoffer
  • Employees working a visionary leadership have a clear idea of their common goal.
  • Temporary setbacks cannot stop visionary leaders or their followers from achieving their goals. 
  • Visionary leader is good at using the resources at their disposal. For example, they can use the team’s energy to focus on a specific goal and make it a reality. 
  • Visionary leaders are proactive. Sometimes they can even foresee challenges.
  • These leaders value creativity and innovation. They inspire the team to dream, create, and thrive with their goal in mind. 
  • A visionary leader is not afraid of taking a risk. They can work towards a hard target and push the team towards achieving it. 
  • They don’t back away from appreciating the effort of the employees and team members. Visionary leaders appreciate the employees and affect the vision of the organization in the process. 
  • They work like the captain of a ship and inspire everyone to be on board and be on the same page. These leaders can build a sense of unity among the employees. 

The Disadvantages Of Visionary Leadership Style: Cons

Zig Ziglar 
  • Visionary leaders focus on the bigger goal. But they may skip smaller goals and small day-to-day mistakes. 
  • Sometimes the goal of the organization may intertwine with the leader’s personality and be lost if there is no proper succession in line to pick it up. 
  • Short-term objectives and goals often get trampled upon by the long-term goal of the visionary leader. 
  • A fixated goal/vision may sometimes toss good ideas and plans aside. 
  • The vision depends upon only one person who shows it. So, if the vision fails, only the leader is held accountable. They cannot share their failure with the team. 

Visionary Leadership Style: Case Studies (Examples)

All the characteristics discussed here play a key role in defining a visionary leader and how they operate to make a vision a reality. However, here are two case studies I cannot help but elaborate upon. 

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Smartphones came into existence, and we have a lot to thank Steve Jobs for that. It was his idea to create touchscreen smartphones, Tablets, and light laptops that put the world of technology hundreds of steps forward within a short span of a few years. He had a great contribution to developing a graphic user interface and mouse which we use in today’s time. 

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a man who symbolizes visions. He visions one thing after another. He was behind the creation of PayPal. Musk made electric vehicles more modern and accessible. His idea of the boring company, Neuralink, is groundbreaking. Elon Musk was the first man to create reusable spacecraft with his zero-profit project we know as SpaceX. He even sent his car to space on his own rocket ships. It goes without saying that Elon Musk is a true visionary leader.

How To Become A Visionary Leader?

Leaders are mostly made. Only a few people are trueborn leaders. The world needs more visionaries than it has right now. So, in whatever field in life you are aiming to be a leader in, you should possess several skills. Here are some soft leadership skills you can practice to become a visionary leader. 

1. Visionaries Build Upon A Plan

Visionaries Build Upon A Plan

A vision is not just a mere dream. It has lots of calculations, skills, solved problems, and plans integrated into them. To become a good visionary leader, you should be able to make plans out of the visions you have. Creating a vision statement can be a good first step. Also, it should be driven towards a future and should be built upon a realistic goal with a possible outcome. Planning and thinking of a bigger picture are necessary to make that outcome a reality. 

2. Addressing Issues

Addressing Issues 

Visionaries are able to address problems within an organization. Although you have a long-term goal stuck in mind, you should be able to see, analyze and address problems of the present and envision solutions that work in both the short and long term. No, you should not micromanage everything. Rather, having an insight into the present conditions and problems is good enough. 

3. Transparent In Communication

Transparent In Communication

You are a visionary, but it does not mean that you should work towards an unrealistic goal. Also, it is important to keep all of your members posted about your visions and what you want them to achieve for the organization. This is only possible through transparent communication. Through transparent communication, you can put forward a realistic plan, asses problems at hand, and provide necessary feedback to inspire and improve the team toward achieving a vision. 

4. Be Optimistic & Creative

Be Optimistic & Creative

A visionary leader is both an optimist and a creative thinker. It is their optimism that boosts their passion and confidence and makes them think outside of the box. They are enthusiastic to take on critical projects and make them happen. Developing optimism in your personality can increase the possibility of success as a visionary leader.

5. Be Emotionally Intelligent

Be Emotionally Intelligent

Visionary leaders are passionate. But they can also keep their emotions in check. They recognize and acknowledge the emotions of other people and instill their vision into them. Building strong emotional stability and intelligence can help you develop yourself toward becoming a visionary leader. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

So, those were all the qualities you can expect from a visionary leader. However, if you need any further questions answered, you can follow the ones that I have already answered here. 

1. Which Leadership Styles Did Goleman Talk About?

Goleman talked about six leadership styles. Here are the examples –
1. Coercive leadership style.
2. Authoritative leadership style. 
3. Affiliate leadership style
4. Democratic leadership style. 
5. Pacesetting leadership style.
6. Coaching leadership style.

2. Who Is A Good Visionary Leader?

A good visionary leader has a clear goal and structure for how they envision it. This goal is driven toward a possible future of success. They create a plan to execute the vision and inspire their subordinates to collaborate with them to achieve the same.

3. What Is A Visionary Strategy?

A visionary strategy is driven by goals that are unique and a couple of creative ideas. They can help a business outpace and outperform the competition and last longer in the long-term competition. It is important for a business to discover and create unique goal-driven visionary strategies to win and keep winning in the future.

Is Visionary Leadership Effective?

The visions, passion, and calculative thinking to perform in the face of challenging situation links visionary leaders like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Nick Woodman. They don’t just dream. They have a solid vision they can build upon with skills, resources, and people, and their courageous personalities can inspire. 21st-century businesses are heavily influenced by visionary leadership styles. It is needless to say that this leadership style is effective in a vast range of business sectors. 

So, that was the vision I had of visionary leadership. I will wait for any opinion or comment you have to make on the same.

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Mashum Mollah

Mashum Mollah is a tech entrepreneur by profession and passionate blogger by heart. He is on a mission to help small businesses grow online. He shares his journey, insights, and experiences in this blog. If you are an entrepreneur, digital marketing professional, or simply an info-holic, then this blog is for you.

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