5 Ways to Visualize Your Way to Leadership Success

Do you consider yourself a “visionary” leader?

Visionary leaders see their organizations and the world as places of amazing potential. They can look ahead and clearly envision how things should be in tremendous detail. They also have the ability to take action in ways that bring their vision to life in meaningful ways.

Visionary leaders exist at all levels in organizations big and small around the world. Some are quite well known: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffett are all considered visionaries. Yet there are many others that are not known well at all – at least not yet – for the profound vision and impact that they have on others.

Visionary leaders are the types of people who drive their organizations into the future like rockets. They often go well above and beyond what would normally be expected of people in their respective positions. Perhaps the most important differentiating fact is that visionary leaders often seem to be living their best lives. They don’t sacrifice their values or integrity to do their work, nor do they cause misfortune to others in order to advance their own careers.

These visionary leaders have much in common, but what I want to focus on today is this idea of visualization. I touched on the topic briefly in my previous blog post and believe the subject deserves more attention, so let’s dig in.

The World Needs Visionary Leaders

Leaders who can envision successful outcomes are more valuable than ever in today’s world. Organizations in our modern era are driven largely by data and algorithms, but they still employ real human beings who require authentic and inspirational leadership.

Today’s leaders need to be able to understand the data and move with the speed of technology. But they also need to be able to inspire their people and translate all the data and facts into a vision that is inspiring to others.

When leaders learn how to visualize, it enables them to put the work of their respective organizations into the proper context, which is what allows employees to focus on what is required of them. They are able to see the past, present and future, and they see how those eras are connected. Moreover, leaders who can visualize effectively turn raw data, sales numbers, statistical information and ideas into information that people understand and can work with.

Leaders who visualize successful outcomes are also equipped to inspire their people more effectively because they don’t need to rely on numbers or data to make a case. They can paint a mental picture that is compelling, persuasive and memorable. This drives engagement and ensures that people within an organization are all working toward a common goal and vision.

No longer can leaders simply describe what they want. Today, leaders need to be able to transform their ideas, concepts and directives into stories that others can freely visualize. Doing so makes them better understood and much more likely to keep their team members on the same path.

Visualization is essential to visionary leadership, not only because it creates a more inspirational landscape, but because it helps those leaders stay attuned to their leadership “whys.” Unfortunately, visualization is not well understood by many leaders. They can let their minds wander, and they can usually picture how the ideal future should look, but often they are unable to build a consistent, useful and practical practice for visualization.

How to Visualize: 5 Tips for Success

If you want to use the power of visualization to strengthen your leadership and affirm your leadership “why,” you need to go about it the right way. Otherwise, you can find yourself feeling frustrated and ineffectual. So, how do you do it right? I have some tips that can help.

Tip #1 – Know What You Want – And Refine It Continuously

My previous blog post was focused on the importance of knowing exactly what you want as a leader. Surprisingly, many leaders go through their careers without taking time to determine what they really want and the impact that want to have. Needless to say, sometimes those leaders are not terribly effective. Knowing what you want gives you intention and a vision to focus on, otherwise you are just daydreaming. Once you know what you want for your career and your organization, you can start to visualize it. But don’t stop there; keep refining the vision of what you want so it stays fresh in your mind. Attach emotions to it. Associate it with details related to your five senses. Make it as real as possible in your mind, and you will be able to visualize it much more effectively.

Tip #2 – Picture Yourself Past Your Achievement

Here’s a powerful trick: Instead of visualizing yourself in the moment of achieving your goal, which may seem more natural, picture yourself living your life after you have achieved what you want. For example, instead of visualizing the achievement of lofty quarterly sales goals, you might picture your team celebrating those achievements on a corporate retreat. Or instead of visualizing a successful partnership coming to life, picture yourself being delighted by the fruits of that partnership. In other words, don’t visualize the thing happening; visualize the world where it has already happened. It is subtle, but it gives your visualization practice a serious power boost.

Tip #3 – Write it Down

One of the best ways to remain consistent with your vision is to write down what you intend to visualize. Writing it down reinforces the vision in your mind, and it makes it easier to convey to your team members. You don’t need to write a novel, either. Just jot down the key points and some crucial details enough so that it brings your vision fully to life in your mind and in reality.

Tip #4 – Talk About It

Don’t be superstitious about your visualizations. Some people think that they can remove the power of their visions by sharing it with others and that is pure nonsense The more you describe your vision and tell others about what you have visualized, the more likely it will come to fruition. Telling people about your vision also keeps you accountable, which leads me to my next visualization tip…

Tip #5 – Do the Work

I would love it if I could just imagine what I wanted and then witness it happening immediately in front of me, but, sadly, visualization doesn’t work that way. Yes, it can help to guide your choices in ways that you might not be conscious of and it’s not magic, as it doesn’t work without putting effort into the process. When you visualize what you want, it’s important to take time to consider the steps that are necessary to get there. Then you can do what you need to do to inspire yourself and your team. 

What Do You Think about Visualization?

I know that when most people read about leadership and leadership development, they are not necessarily expecting advice that looks like this, as it may come across as fluffy. People tend to want concrete actions to take to improve their leadership. However, the power of the mind is amazingly potent; without it, leaders are unable to inspire others and connect the present with the ideal future.

When leaders use visualization, great things happen, but perhaps you might still be skeptical. If that’s you, I encourage you to reach out to continue this discussion. I would love to know what you think as well as explore how visualization can help you achieve all of your life’s goals – not solely your leadership path.

Even if you’re on board with the idea of visualization, I would be delighted to hear from you, so please feel free to call me at 1.855.871.3374 or send an email to joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca. I’m excited to hear what you think!

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