2. Vision: A Leadership Imperative


In the same manner that Solomon suggests that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18), organizations that suffer from a lack of visionary leadership also face significant risks. Organizations that embrace “tweak therapy” in an effort to mitigate such risks instead of identifying and implementing long-term transformational strategies will not, in the long-term, thrive.

Visionary leadership is where a leader plants the “seed of vision” for planned/intentional change that anticipates and facilitates future (and current) organizational growth. Like a contagion embraced by others, visionary leaders articulate, exemplify, and facilitate an organizational embrace of a compelling vision that prompts all within the organization to a cohesive and committed path for growth at all levels.

“Visionary leadership is based on a balanced expression of the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical dimensions. It requires core values, clear vision, empowering relationships, and innovative action” (2001, C. McLaughlin).

Visionary leadership thrives where strategic thinking is encouraged, facilitating strategies that are a “roadmap” to the organization’s future. It realistically projects, secures, and aligns the necessary organizational resources to “arrive” at the outcomes of the vision.



A “future-ready” education superintendent who seeks to instill meaningful vision to his/her organization’s educational ministry routinely engages the following strategies:

  • Communication—articulates simply, honestly, and confidently what the organization’s future will look like; securing empowerment to proceed through crafting support strategies that identify the paths (resources) to realize the vision.
  • Teambuilding—secures associates and support staff who passionately embrace and can effectively articulate the vision, and who are empowered to make decisions to advance the vision.
  • Personnel—anticipates the most effective, strategic use and distribution of human resources, projecting how those resources can be maximized in the organization’s ever-changing environment and structure. Decisions are prioritized on the basis of anticipated organizational direction and structure five to ten years into the future.
  • Innovation—takes calculated risks based on intentional openness to new information, has a low degree of deference to constraints of traditional thinking, and works to realize creative “breakthroughs.”
  • Modeling Mentor—embraces constructive, innovative organizational change; and models, nurtures, and collaborates with change leaders (i.e., superintendents, administrators, teachers) to envision and prepare for what the organization must become in order to assure a thriving future.


Research suggests common themes in the qualities that set apart the visionary leader from all others; such qualities as:

  1. prays consistently and earnestly for divine guidance to lead the organization to a vital future, consistent with the highest ideals of the Scriptures.
  2. possesses an optimistic “mental mind’s eye” for what the future holds.
  3. invests in and inspires people within the organization, developing their strengths and capacities to envision constructive change.
  4. understands and appreciates, as a change-leader, the importance of high-level accountability; masters and guides the process of change with aplomb.
  5. imagines actively, openly, and creatively, envisioning outcomes that facilitate long-term organizational health and growth.
  6. functions at all levels with personal and professional integrity beyond reproach, facilitating an organizational culture strong in honesty, transparency, adaptability, and perseverance.
  7. celebrates organizational achievement while simultaneously refusing to become complacent; always striving to anticipate and achieve the organization’s “next step.”
  8. pursues consistent balance in his/her personal and professional life through intentional and substantive engagement in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical dimensions of healthful living.