I was coaching someone yesterday and we started talking about visionary leadership. We were looking at her 360 results and it was pretty clear to me that she had a good grasp of who she was and how others responded to her. Her directs were big fans and her bosses seemed really pleased with what she had accomplished up to this point. The one thing that kept popping up though was her lack of visionary leadership. Her group recently underwent a massive shift. Roles were realigned, people were maligned and I was made to understand that the feelings still lingered. She was given control of a small team.
We talked about how she was doing. It was evident in the feedback, that her team was supportive. She started to address all concerns early on and often. She brought issues to the table, aired them out and worked as a team to solve them. She prides herself on never assigning something to her team that she herself wouldn’t do. Things were working, the team started to hum. She talked about the long term state and what the team and work would look like once they got through all of this. They celebrated wins and put to bed old habits. She followed the script for change to the letter. But the one recurring piece of constructive feedback was (the perception of) her lack of visionary leadership. Something was wrong. We talked through the steps and the actions, what she was doing, what was working, what was resonating and I asked her to describe for me the end state. It sounded very reasonable.
But when we dug a little deeper, that is where it stopped. It was reasonable. It made sense, but it didn’t necessarily inspire. She was in a space where she could get her head around the idea. Her team understood the direction and was up to follow, but they did not feel the passion. They were missing the inspirational messaging. Her drive was not what they expected. They knew she was committed. They just did not know how inspired she was to the idea. To me listening in, it felt like the path was dictated to her, out of her control and influence. So she made the most of it, put together a detailed plan and went along for the ride. But she never put the brakes on to find the inspiration to compel her team to new heights.
She had checked all the boxes, but one necessary emotional intelligence component was a glaring omission.