How Gratitude Resolves the Dark Side of Visionary Leadership
A friend and CEO sent me an email after reading Monday’s post, “Can Gratitude Be a Bad Thing? Yes!”
He writes, “Why do I feel this post began with my name?”
“I find that when I spend my time planning the future – constantly looking out beyond the now – I can lose sight of the contribution of others in the present, especially if they don’t see what I see in the future.
It probably sounds and feels like I am ungrateful for their contributions in the present.”
The dark side of visionary leadership:
#1. Vision contaminates:
It’s stressful living with ‘not yet’ churning in your gut.
The success you celebrated yesterday becomes today’s ingratitude.
Imagined success makes present success unfulfilling.
- Vision for a strong team prevents you from appreciating the strengths in your struggling team.
- Vision for bigger impact shrinks satisfaction with small contribution.
- Vision for meaningful relationships magnifies disappointment with shallow connections.
- Vision for a team member’s development diminishes the value of slow steady progress.
One failure erases several successes of equal magnitude. (Bad is Stronger than Good)
#2. Dissatisfaction is a two-edged sword.
Dissatisfaction with current attainment often drives vision. But ingratitude follows dissatisfaction.
Gratitude only becomes gratitude after it’s expressed.
How might you express gratitude in an underwhelming present?
Gratitude in the present:
#1. Honor – don’t belittle.
You’re counting on your team to build the future. Why demotivate them with ingratitude?
Passion is never built by belittling the people who built yesterday’s vision.
(It’s true that some of the people who built yesterday’s vision may become irrelevant to tomorrow’s vision. Honor them anyway.)
#2. Progress – not attainment.
All attainments are achieved by incremental progress.
Express gratitude for progress, not simply attainment.
#3. Future building today.
The present isn’t the enemy. The future is built in the present.
Transform imagination into behavior.
How might leaders navigate ingratitude caused by vision?
Mindfulness and Vision are Complementary (Stoner)
5 Shortcomings of a Visionary and How to Compensate (Forbes)
The Dark Side of Visionary Leadership in Strategic Implementation (JOM)
so true Dan…I struggle with this cause I am always moving forward.,..gotta be in the success…thank you for your post…really helpful
Thanks Andrew. Your transparency is refreshing and helpful.
Living in New England a lot of illustrations grow from the Patriots dramatic comeback down 28-3 in Q3 against the Falcons.. certainly the year long vision of a Superbowl victory looked pretty bleak .. leaders (and followers) had to maintain their focus even as the opposing forces did not just give up. I think much of this comes from the mental edge that practice, experience and preparation produces. Not the frenetic high of a Pep Rally, but a quieter confidence of hours of study and preparation… (think flight simulator)
Part of strategic leadership is understanding the strategy will not be flawless –
Thanks Ken. Your concluding sentence is essential. Your approach requires confidence AND humility.
Dan – Powerful words: Gratitude only becomes gratitude after it’s expressed. It’s got to leave my head and be received by someone to count.
Thanks Wendy. Nailed it!
Very important reminders here to acknowledge those who came before for building a foundation on which the new can be created.
I have clients who are experiencing the pain of being set aside and unappreciated by new leadership who are so eager to make their mark that they fail to thank my clients for the work they did to keep the organization going during the interim period. It really feels terrible.
I see this passive aggressive behavior as a way to “manage someone out of their job” – make it so painful to remain that they have to leave. But why on earth is that necessary? Can’t you say “thank you, and it really would be better for you to seek another job so I can bring in my own people?” I get so tired of ingratitude and just plain mean behavior.
“Vision for bigger impact shrinks satisfaction with small contribution.” Dan, this is a great post and excellent comment! It’s really difficult to see the small progress week-to-week or month-to-month, but in in a bigger picture hindsight, progress over time can be incredible. It’s a challenge to recognize the small steps as big wins. In reality, the big wins are not possible if small chunks of progress are not attained consistently.