What Visionary Leaders See

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 08-03-2014 Email Print this article Print

It's often said that great athletes—Peyton Manning, LeBron James and Derek Jeter immediately come to mind—command the kind of vision which sharply elevates their game IQ. The same can be said of highly successful CIOs and other senior leaders who take their organizations to new levels of accomplishment. Beyond a superior work ethic, experience and institutional knowledge, they have a knack for seeing things that others don't. The new book, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See (Simon & Schuster/available in August), focuses on translating this special capability to real-life business situations, such as project oversight, decision-making and negotiations. Author Max Bazerman cites real-life news and business events ranging from the financial crisis of 2008 to Enron to the Challenger disaster to illustrate what can happen in the absence of such vision. The following 10 "what visionary leaders see" examples for CIOs are adapted from the book. Bazerman is co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the Jesse Isidor Straus Professor at the Harvard Business School. For more about the book, click here.

  • The Outsider's Experience

    They're skilled at playing the role of the outsider looking in, to honestly and fairly evaluate how shareholders, internal users and customers will perceive of a particular product, solution or integration.
    The Outsider's Experience
  • An Internal Perspective

    They examine themselves to assess what they did to affect change, as opposed to how external factors did so.
    An Internal Perspective
  • Things That Aren't There

    Visionary leaders often acknowledge events which did not happen while still influencing an outcome.
    Things That Aren't There
  • A Third Choice

    They avoid the pitfalls of either/or thinking, and weigh various alternatives to open up a new range of opportunities.
    A Third Choice
  • The Benefits of Unconventionality

    They'll bring in unexpected meeting attendees, project participants, and others, thus encouraging fresh ideas and approaches.
    The Benefits of Unconventionality
  • New Data Resources

    They're curious about data which exists outside typical areas of focus, to consider how it can benefit the organization in novel ways.
    New Data Resources
  • Trouble Before Trouble Happens

    They recognize the warning signs of a slippery slope well in advance, to help their teams avoid possible disasters.
    Trouble Before Trouble Happens
  • The Fine Line Between Caution and Cynicism

    While they're good at anticipating potential failure points, and don't allow this quality to lapse into productivity-sapping negativity.
    The Fine Line Between Caution and Cynicism
  • The Real Story

    They look beyond razzle-dazzle moves on the part of vendors, partners and others to evaluate the real value of a proposal.
    The Real Story
  • The Possibilities of "Why Not?"

    It's the question which leaders always ask, as they drive themselves and team members to expand beyond their perceived limitations.
    The Possibilities of
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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