5 Visionary Leadership Examples
“We Are Called to Be the Visionary Leaders We Are Destined to Be.” -Lia Dunlap (05:27-05:32)
What does it mean to be a visionary leader? It means guiding others to their highest selves and creating a brighter future for humanity. It means taking a stand for something bigger than yourself, acting toward that vision relentlessly. You can inspire others to leave the shadows. To be seen, to be recognized. To be heard. To be valued. In this week's episode, Lia Dunlap shares her five visionary leaders that made a positive impact in her life.
Part One of ‘5 Visionary Leadership Examples’
Visionary leadership means recognizing the inherent power within each individual. It means knowing a unique and unified goal can double and triple the power of a person. Visionary leaders can see things from a broad perspective.
“A visionary leader sees the future in the present.” – Lia Dunlap (09:02-09:06)
There are many great examples of visionary leaders inspiring others to stand up and hold the world accountable for doing better. Each leader had a passion for a specific vision. Here are some of the most significant examples of visionary leadership style:
Nelson Mandela's journey saved his own life and transformed the lives of his entire country. After years of spending time in a small prison cell in Robin Island, he was released on February 11th, 1990. He went on to end apartheid, also establishing a multi-racial government against all the odds. In 1993, Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Frederik Willem de Klerk for their work during the civil rights revolution in South Africa. A year later, Mandela became South Africa's first black president, and his vision of hope inspired South Africans and the world. It was an example of equality that inspired the world as a whole.
Speaking of freedom, my next visionary leader found hers giving a singing voice to a caged bird. Maya Angelou was a poet, an artist, a luminary, and an author. For generations, she was a light at the end of the tunnel. Her vision of encouraging girls to speak up, find their voice, and recognize their magnificence as phenomenal women made me proud
Part Two of ‘5 Visionary Leadership Examples’
Next is Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist from The Bronx, New York, who founded the 'Me Too' movement. Tarana is an example of a visionary. She looked beyond her circumstances and helped create a campaign that transformed the lives of women across the world. The ripple effect allowed women across the globe to say, "me too." They could express that they had been victims of abuse. They could make sure women knew that they weren't alone. It allowed Tarana to capture the spirit of those people who had been affected. It's like catching lightning in a bottle. You are there at the right time and finding that thing inside of you that grows so loudly that you have to speak it. In expressing it, she inspired others to do the same. There are many similarly influential leaders rising. Maybe it's you; perhaps it's someone you know.
“Knowing your life purpose allows you to live at the level of a visionary leader.” – Lia Dunlap (17:16-17:27)
My other inspiration is Rosa Parks. There's a wave of people rising against racial and global injustice. The foundation for that change comes from people like Rosa Parks and others in that era who laid the foundation of the movement. We can stand on that foundation and fight for equality and the experience of humanity. We are all the better because of women and visionaries like Rosa parks. You might think she was not a visionary, or she was just a woman who was coming home from work and was tired. Incorrect. In Parks' heart, there was a vision of how life should be, and sometimes that's the subtlety of a visionary. It's the subtlety of knowing enough is enough. Knowing life can feel different, better, brighter, more hopeful, more engaged, more inclusive of the true breadth of humanity.
The fifth person on my list is the former first lady, Michelle Obama. Not only for the incredible work that she did in the White House but for what she continues to do today. I see her in the media, still inspiring people across the country to show up, be bold, and fight for a future that makes a difference. She had incredible intelligence and grace, even in the face of ridicule and hatred. As a woman of color, I know it takes courage to face that day after day and still show up. It takes a leader to say: I can see those against me, and I'm for the people who are ready to make a change.
You have to set expectations for your partners, your team, and even for the people that you serve.
Another method of leadership is being aligned with who you are. You could be the person who inspires someone else to look at their shortcomings, their lack or limitation, values, and beliefs. When inspiring people to do bolder, brighter things with their lives and with the world, you might be chastised. You might be called weird or crazy. People who used to be your friends may turn away. A visionary leader understands that from the beginning. It's worth all of the pain, frustration, and pitfalls to get where you are going.
Visionary leaders aren't born, they're made. They're made through the challenges, oppression, and tragedy. Because of these experiences, they're able to see the possibilities for all of us. The mark of a visionary leader sees the potential and possibility in everyone. Here's the thing. A real visionary leader will happily turn down clients because they believe in the independent potential of the client. They think that the client can find a solution and can find the resources they need independently.
It takes seeing the most precise vision, not just for yourself or your business but for everyone whose lives your business touches. When you're able to define your mission, not only for the prosperity of your business but for humanity, what is it you want it to do? How do you want things to change? That goes back to understanding your unique life purpose. When you return regularly, you know that you are doing what's right for that vision. Then, you begin holding on to that vision firmly, capturing the imagination and inspiration of others.
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