Following visionary leaders can be exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Visionary leaders are characterized by their ability to see what others do not see and mobilize people toward that desired goal. The leader is often coming up with new ideas, concepts, and methods and expects implementation of said vision. At its best, following this type of leader leads to a thriving, innovative culture. When functioning improperly, tension and frustration prevail. Here are five ways to work with a visionary leader:

Listen Carefully. Pay close attention to what the visionary leader says. There is a difference between an idea and an assignment. With the visionary leader, sometimes the line between the two is skewed. Give this leader undivided attention and take notes.

Ask for Clarification. Before leaving the presence of a visionary leader, make sure there is complete understanding of what the leader expects. A leader may be visionary but not the best communicator. Ask for more details and never, ever assume you understand, make sure you understand.

Offer Feedback. Hearing vision come forth from this type of leader is fascinating. However, it may prove difficult to offer any feedback. Visionary leaders need to have someone on the team who can help them see blind spots or a better way. The misnomer with visionary leaders is that everything suggested is good. Offer feedback that is constructive and informed. Spread feedback out so you do not appear antagonistic.

Follow Through. Each time you speak to a visionary leader, you might walk away with three new ideas. Help the leader to understand the importance of pace. A barrage of ideas can create a culture of busywork instead of innovation. Establish reasonable timelines, clear paths to completion, and always follow through. Provide a consistent, concise report that shows productivity.

Be Honest. Another mark of the visionary leader is he or she feels compelled to contribute something, even the smallest suggestion. This is compounded when the leader is not confident in the team around her. Trust has to be earned through listening, feedback, and follow-through but also, honesty. Not everyone can work with and for a visionary leader. If turnover is high, or the morale is low, conduct an assessment to see if members of the team are in the right seat. Likewise the leader should assess her leadership style as well. If there is consistent team turnover, the leader must assess if her style is driving people away.

Are you a visionary leader or ever worked for one? What are your thoughts on these five tips?

Anthony C. Cobbs
Breakthrough Ministry Consulting
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