Tag Archives: visionary leadership

rhonda

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Visionary Leaders

Several dozen people rely on the decisions I make in order to have a place to go to work, study or rehearse. I am the leaseholder of a building that houses a handful of  music and dance studios. I got the building because I needed access to a recording studio, but couldn’t afford to get one on my own. I figured there would be other people in the same position, so I rented a very large building with a plan for fee-based clients to pay for hourly, weekly or monthly use of some of the studio spaces. Everyone I rented space to has at least a bachelor’s degree in their area of speciality and an established number of clients or students. The idea worked, but there were several problems when my vision of shared studio spaces met the reality of dealing with people only concerned with what they wanted, without regard for the welfare of the entire project.  E utopia and reality seldom work in tandem or maybe the problem is my vision is my vision, not theirs, most people just sort of vaguely follow along for a while.

parade - Copy

We didn’t have a lot of money so the building works are a bit DIY, but we did create small spaces for several small companies to get stuck in. Evenutally, I got in touch with our local council and they’ll help us raise *-standards and solidify the business model.

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Some of the benefits working with a visionary leader

  • Life is never dull
  • You will be taken outside of your comfort zone repeatedly (For some people this is a pitfall)
  • You will have the honour and thrill of a front row seat and if you’re lucky, an active role in transforming something that’s seemingly impossible into practical use.
  • You will work in an environment charged with energy, possibilities
  • You will feel more alive than a ‘normal’ environment.
  • You will be infected by the vision of what could be and will pour your heart, soul, time and talent to make it real.

Some of the pitfalls of working with a visionary leader

  • You will sometimes yearn for dull
  • You will be repeatedly taken outside of your comfort zone.
  • You will have the fear of closely watching and possibly being devastated when whole-heartedly attempting to change the seemingly impossible, temporarily, proves to be impossible.
  • You will work in an environment charged with energy and resource draining possibilities that may or may not work. You may become addicted to this, like a drug or gambling.
  • You will sometimes yearn for normal.
  • Your visionary infection will be cured by a cold dose of reality, advice from uninfected friends or loved ones, or another opportunity will present a new reality that surpasses the possible reality you’re striving to reach.
  • Your heart, soul, ego and talents will be stretched, bruised or exhausted.
  • You will realise a vision of your own that doesn’t coincide with your visionary leader and find yourself left behind.

An Essex artist made a sketch of me once. He captured the ruthless determination balanced by intense sadness, the battle between empathy and clear-eyed vision running through my head at any given moment.  I suppose the best artists are supposed to see beyond the surface in order to capture something real for all to see.  I’ve never been completely comfortable with the truth in this sketch, but hiding from what it reveals,  won’t make it less true.

sketch

The rents coming in weren’t enough to cover the costs of having the building, but I managed to hold onto it by finding part time work and using all my wages and most of my gig money to pay the electrics , phone, internet, insurance and rent.  The stress was affecting not just my health and sleep patterns, but my ability to create and adapt quickly to new opportunities.  This was the stage in the project when ‘vision’ and empathy for the needs of everyone else needed to be looked at with cool headed logic.

I needed to assess what was working and was wasn’t, then I would need the courage and the will to change things so the project would no longer be dependent on me personally. It was time for the building to pay for itself.

Kent Arts Television Film Music
KATFM CIC

At first, I was worried that if I failed, lots of people would be out on the street and it’s hard to find affordable small spaces in the centre of town, But slowly,  my thinking began to shift. I got the building, not just so other people could build their music and dance companies, but for my own projects as well… and if my music and film projects were going to survive and grow, I would need to be physically , emotionally and financially healthy. For that to happen, I would need to be more practical and a bit less visionary for a while.

I write a lot of songs. At the moment, I’m working through a project called 50 Songs in 50 Weeks. There are a few already done and dusted, but there’s one called ‘Hustle’ that seems particularly appropriate for this subject. It’s about hustling everyday just to survive as a musician, but that’s true for most of us, no matter what we do for a living.  If you can spare 50 seconds listen to this and see if you can identify with the message.

For me, life is all about hustling to survive another day.

That’s one of the biggest pitfalls in dealing with a visionary leader. The vision becomes concrete and the cracks start to show so changes are made to deal with the problems by augmenting what’s in place to work and flow better… in theory. The end result should be a far better outcome for all involved. That’s one of the biggest benefits of dealing with a visionary leader, the end product is rarely what anyone expected at the start, but it’s a heck of a journey to get there and there will be laughter, tears, intense competition and a spectacular finish that everyone is closely watching… until the next beginning.

michelle

 

Self awareness is a valuable commodity in life, relationships and business.

In an effort to stem the potential damage of my visionary leadership style, I looked for problem-solvers and strategists to partner on a leadership committee. Failing in that, I declared all residents are automatically part of the Advisory committee and I made sure they were informed about big and small changes to our shared space because my decisions would have a direct impact on their livelihoods. Instead of meetings that few if any would attend, I went to people individually to get their feedback face to face, by email and newsletters. I actively sought their opinions before making decisions that sometimes would prove unpopular because at the end of the day, I am the leader and I have to make decisions that are hopefully in the best interest of the  project. Consulting the residents of the building turned out to be one of the best leadership decisions I’ve ever made. It provides an in-built spectrum of opinions and insights that might never have occurred to me. The problem with consulting all residents is most people are only concerned with themselves and take deep offence if their opinions aren’t treated as the final and gold-standard word on any issue.  Some people  will fail to realise the decision I’m looking for does not rest with them, but with me.  Luckily, most people are cool with sharing their ideas and as long as they’re not personally affected, they’re happy for me to get on with making up my own mind.

film set

Some of the benefits working with a visionary leader

  • Life is never dull
  • You will be taken outside of your comfort zone repeatedly (For some people this is a pitfall)
  • You will have the honour and thrill of a front row seat and if you’re lucky, an active role in transforming something that’s seemingly impossible into practical use.
  • You will work in an environment charged with energy, possibilities
  • You will feel more alive than a ‘normal’ environment.
  • You will be infected by the vision of what could be and will pour your heart, soul, time and talent to make it real.

Some of the pitfalls of working with a visionary leader

  • You will sometimes yearn for dull
  • You will be repeatedly taken outside of your comfort zone.
  • You will have the fear of closely watching and possibly being devastated when whole-heartedly attempting to change the seemingly impossible, temporarily, proves to be impossible.
  • You will work in an environment charged with energy and resource draining possibilities that may or may not work. You may become addicted to this, like a drug or gambling.
  • You will sometimes yearn for normal.
  • Your visionary infection will be cured by a cold dose of reality, advice from uninfected friends or loved ones, or another opportunity will present a new reality that surpasses the possible reality you’re striving to reach.
  • Your heart, soul, ego and talents will be stretched, bruised or exhausted.
  • You will realise a vision of your own that doesn’t coincide with your visionary leader and find yourself left behind.

Look at that sketch again

sketch

 

The one thing a visionary does is move on. Remember that and you’ll be fine while it lasts. No, you will be better than fine. You will surpass any and all of your previous moments of brilliance because a real visionary will only have time for the best they can bring out of the team they’ve got. You will be inspired to see what could be and to dig in and go for it. When you or your visionary leader moves on, it may take a while, but at some point you will know that you were more alive and happier than you had ever been and you will be less afraid to actively and aggressively pursue your own dreams, goals and vision. You might be one of the very few who find a way to achieve their own aims in life or who choose to stay for the love, the intensity of the pursuit of utopia, the pursuit of that perfect balance. You might be one of a very small inner circle who choose to stay and create and create and create and createandcreateandcreateandcreate…..

RhondaandTheGreatUnknown.com