Visionary Leader
Human Resources

The Visionary vs. The Arsonist

There is a dark side to visionary leaders that often gets lost in the midst of the allure and appeal of progress. It’s like many relationships in life where we overlook the downside because the upside is good. In reality, the behaviors of BOTH sides are affecting your ability to move forward and grow.

So, who showed up for work today? The visionary or the arsonist?



On my recent vacation I read a book named DO/SCALE by Les McKeown which increased my awareness of this dichotomy. Generally speaking, the book is a practical guide to scaling an organization. For me, it quickly became a practical guide in self-awareness as it introduced some common traits of visionary leaders. 



Of course we can all think of those mega-stars like Jobs, Bezos, and Musk… but I think there are many more of us in this boat who indeed fit the description of “Visionary Leader”; Most of us are just too hesitant to give ourselves the title. So, for the purpose of this exercise, I’m letting your humility off the hook and grouping you in if you are the type of person who leads with your head up, looking for opportunity to improve the lives of yourself and your team. 



The Blessings

There are plenty of reasons that you make a positive impact for your organization: You are willing and able to see new opportunity, for starters. Once you do, you know how to believe you can wrangle that opportunity and can inspire your team to do the same. You don’t listen to the outside nay-sayers and embrace the pivot. Truth-be-told, young companies would ALL die if it wasn’t for the blessing of your abilities. Yassssss!!!!



The Curse

Here is where the alter ego takes over: Things are going as planned aaaaaaaaaand maybe a better opportunity comes into view… Maybe some discouraging news comes in… or maybe all the routine of life and business are making you feel “boxed in”.



Enter the Arsonist. The Arsonist burns those mundane or less opportune items to the ground. And they do it in the name of pivoting, progress, or some other justification. And while this is happening, you are burning out your team, family, and losing credibility along the way. Nooooooo!!!!!



The Fix

The fix is, as I say, simple but not easy. The simplest fix is knowing the truth about which person showed up for work today. Which persona are you acting out of? Sometimes the right decision is to pivot. Self awareness is your friend here. For me, simply asking myself the question of “who” is making the decision is all it takes. Better yet, share this post with someone you trust and allow them to ask the question every time they suspect the Arsonist has the matches out. 



In my business, I have pivoted many times over the past 17 years and can argue that my mentality in doing so has made us a more successful company. However, when I really look closely, I see that half of those pivots were made by the Arsonist and stunted our growth, burnt out my team, and decreased opportunity.



Recently, I had a moment of clarity about our current business model and began going through the Visionary Leaders’ toolkit of excitement and vision casting while proposing a new business model that I believe will be rocket fuel; creating big opportunity for everyone on our team. I stopped myself and considered that this might be the Arsonist. I landed on the belief that it was not, but I didn’t stop there.



I then explained the Visionary/Arsonist principle to some of my leaders and asked them what they thought this was. They agreed that it seemed like the Visionary, confirming for me that the Arsonist’s matches were nowhere to be found. 



So for all of the Visionary Leaders reading this, and also all who work for, or are married to one, today is a great time to understand the blessing, the curse, and most importantly, the fix to determine who showed up today. The Visionary… or the Arsonist?  



Pursue clarity and respond accordingly 🔥 



I talk about this topic and others on my weekly Clarity Compressed Podcast. You can also listen on the platform of your choice: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or Castbox. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And if you want to learn more, you can check out my website

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