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The Rearview; A Leadership Perspective

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- How effective is leadership without a vision? Vision is a main pillar of leadership, so great leaders must also be visionaries. A visionary is described as a person with keen foresight who thinks about the future or advancements in creative and imaginative ways.

One of my most infl uential leaders said, "In order to have great ideas, you must have lots of ideas." While this has credence, if unchecked it can lead to constant change, undue organizational stress, and cause goal fragmentation and uncertainty.

If it's true that leaders must also be visionaries, is it also true that visionaries are by nature also leaders? Not necessarily.

That's for each reader to decide for themselves, but consider this: what happens when a pure visionary on the path to meeting their goal(s) finally decides to check their rear view, only to find no followers? I would submit that no leadership has occurred. Granted there are many styles of leadership, each one appropriate for a given situation, but an organization with an established culture of free-will followers is a testament that true leadership has occurred.

There is irony associated with the concept that we eff ectively check our progress by looking back at what's been done. As a visionary, you develop visions and establish your own measures of success.

As a leader, however, if you have met your goal(s) without the rest of the team in tow, then true leadership must be questioned. While we learn from lessons of the past, there is also much to be gained along the way through peer and subordinate interaction and feedback.

In our business, we move as a team, and it is each individual leader's responsibility to shape and mold those who will replace us. Th ere is no doubt that our younger generations are more than capable of keeping pace with
tomorrow's technological advancements, but it is our responsibility to instill these leadership concepts in our successors as we prepare them.

Vision and leadership must have balance. When achieved, the harmony it produces is sobering. Without it, we are not operating at the maximum efficiency our Air Force requires.