Three Visionaries – Which Are You?

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My guest today is Dan Reiland. Dan is the Executive Director of Leadership Expansion at 12Stone Church in greater Atlanta. Known as “The Pastor’s Coach,” Dan’s passion is developing strong and effective church leaders. He and his wife Patti are cherished life-long friends, and I’m thrilled to have him join me today.

by Dan Reiland

As a leader, you’re likely a visionary, even if you don’t think so.

That’s because leaders see things others don’t see.  

And that often becomes vision – a picture of a preferred future, a solution that makes things better, or a spark of human leadership potential.

Vision is required to realize progress. Vision brings energy that builds momentum. Vision brings fire, flavor and fuel to your mission or purpose.

Visionary thinking isn’t limited to the top leader. They often provide primary vision, but shouldn’t be the only ones seeing what others don’t. 

Visionary thinking should be comprehensive, emanating from teams, departments, divisons/campuses and top leadership. These individual pieces aren’t competitive – they’re all valuable and should be integrated into a unified whole.

How do you integrate these “layers of vision?”

  • Embrace the best idea, not the loudest voice.
  • Don’t focus on who gets the credit. 
  • Focus on overall results through strategy and execution. 

Vision comes in three different and complementary leadership types. No one fits perfectly into one group. Most of us function in one type with a lesser percentage in a second type.

Entrepreneurial Visionary 

Key attributes: starts new things; embraces risk; needs a strong team.

The entrepreneurial visionary takes the big challenge of starting something new. They see things first and become early adopters or innovators. 

For example, the founding senior pastor at my church, Kevin Myers, “saw” the church multi-site idea before it was a movement. Now 12Stone is a successful multi-site church.

They are also undaunted by risk, and are willing to press forward into uncertainty.

Taking risk is not the same as leading without thought or planning. An entrepreneurial visionary understands the cost but refuses to hesitate merely because of unanswered questions. 

One caution – the entrepreneurial visionary’s gifts are often so specialized they may get stuck without a strong team to help execute the vision. 

Organizational Visionary

Key attributes: makes things better; integrates structure and people; needs clear direction.

The organizational visionary makes things better. They are builders. They improve what already exists. They see problems and provide innovative solutions others can’t.

They are undaunted by a “mess.” They thrive on taking the mess and sculpting it into a work of organizational art.

And, when things inevitably get off track, they have the resilience to do it again.

They also understand how systems work. They are brilliant at integrating people and structure to achieve the desired results. 

Vision is powerful, but its beauty fades quickly if it never comes to pass. Executing the plan is often harder than creating the idea. Execution takes incredible disciplined diligence.

One caution – the organizational visionary needs clear direction. They are pathmakers, but will struggle if significant directional changes are frequently made.  

People Visionary

Key attributes: sees human potential; coaches to achieve potential; must focus on vision.

People visionaries see the best, believe the best, and help people achieve their best. They have a natural intuition that identifies unique gifting and talent.

Once seen, they can coach a person to achieve that potential. 

This fosters elevated teamwork. These leaders realize the power of teams working together to achieve the organization’s goals.

One caution – the people visionary can spend so much time coaching that they drift away from the vision. Keeping vision clear allows them to properly harness talent, multiply outcomes and amplify impact.

Personal Application

Which is your primary visionary ability? 

Are you using this ability to benefit your team? 

Does your organization have all these roles present? How and where do you fit in?

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