When Hope Meets Reality: Why Visionary Leaders Have to Balance Dreams with Realities
Why Successful Leadership is All about Finding the Balance between Hopes and Realities
Management Theory talks a lot about how leaders have to vision and why without it, they are no different from managers who are more concerned about the Day to Day running of organizations. Indeed, pick up any book on Leadership and, chances are that it emphasizes the importance of clear vision for leaders to be successful.
However, in the real world, having a vision is just not enough until and unless such vision is translated into action that produces results.
History is replete with visionary Leaders and statesmen who often fail once elected to power or is put in charge of organizations.
While there are many reasons for this apparent contradiction between vision and mission as well as between the desire to change and the practical realities, the common thread that runs across all such reasons is that more often than not, once hope meets the reality of everyday exigencies, leaders are unable to actualize change and realize their dreams.
This is the main argument of this article and that is unless and until leaders find the middle ground between what is ideal and practical, they cannot succeed.
How the System is Resistant to Change and Why Stakeholders Must Cooperate
For instance, in recent times, the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, is the most famous example of a leader who came to power with high expectations from his followers only to realize during the course of his term, that being a Change Agent is not enough and there must be a corresponding cooperation from all stakeholders to make Dreams Possible.
While this does not mean that Visionary Leaders fail mainly because the people around them fail to live up to their lofty ideals, it is also a strong indictment of the fact that human nature resists change and moreover, the day to day realities of governance mean that there needs to be a sense of mission as well.
Indeed, in the Indian context, the First Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, is another example of a visionary statesmen who was often considered a Giant among Pygmies, and while he could achieve much despite the odds, however, failing to achieve all that we wanted.
As mentioned above, the key aspect here is that the System and the Structures of Governance are such that they are built with many complexities that make it difficult to change them without friction.
What the Leadership of Nehru and Obama Teaches us about How to Overcome the Odds
Having said that, it is also the case that many Visionary Leaders often achieve significant victories and the Signature Healthcare Act for Obama is an example of how he could overcome the odds to deliver this.
In the case of Nehru, his steering of the country through the Post Independence Turbulence and his Institution Building were the key achievements that can be counted against his name. In the corporate context, the Co-Founder of the Indian Software Firm, Infosys, NR Narayana Murthy, is another example of a Change Agent who helped mould the organization into what it is now.
Indeed, the determination of these leaders is learning for others to imbibe and emulate as their dogged pursuits of their dreams made such achievements possible.
However, credit must be given to their contemporaries and colleagues as well who shared their ideals and worked together to bring such visions to fruition.
Of course, there is also the aspect of how much their followers are patient to let their leaders’ time to settle down and tolerate them despite failures here and there.
In other words, expectations from followers cuts both ways as they not only have to be patient, but also temper expectations.
The Traits of Visionary Leaders Who Succeeded Despite the Realities and the Obstacles
This theme acquires significance and importance now as the Newly Elected President of the United States, Joe Biden, is trying to do much to help the country that has been ravaged by a Pandemic and worse, is wrought by divisions and discord, following a Nightmarish Four Year of Donald Trump.
The key lessons from successful leaders such as Ratan Tata of the Tata Group in India and the Late Steve Jobs of Apple and the Inventor of the iPhone that has transformed the way we live is that Visionary Leaders cannot let the realities drag them down and at the same time, cannot let their hopeful dreams blind them to the exigencies of the daily grind.
A Visionary Leader can only succeed if he or she balances the Hopes with the Realities and becomes a role model without developing a Personality Cult that makes them Larger than Life.
In other words, a visionary leader has to be Popular without becoming Overweening and has to be Prominent and at the same time, Self Effacing.
In addition, he or she has to have the ability to carry their teams with them and to inspire them and their followers to follow their paths.
What Tomorrow’s Leaders Can Learn from the Past
Last, it is important for the current generation of Millennials and the Gen Z who are graduating to know that Leadership is all about patience and hard work and not an instant gratification exercise.
Moreover, with our 24/7 Always On world, it is easy to lost one’s way in the real time pressures and hence, leadership needs depth of thought and firmness of action.
It is also crucial for our educational institutes to provide courses on how Leadership in the Digital Age is done so that they train Tomorrow’s Leaders to Learn from the Past to Lead in the Present.
Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.
- Leadership - Introduction
- Importance of Leadership
- Role of a Leader
- Qualities of a Leader
- Leadership and Management
- Leader versus Manager
- Authority vs Leadership
- Leadership and Motivation
- Emotional Intelligence for Leaders
- Organizational Leadership
- Leadership Ethics
- Leadership Strategy
- Leadership Styles
- Personal Leadership Brand
- Level 5 Leadership
- Situational Leadership
- Situational Leadership and Motivation
- Leadership & Subordinate Development
- Leadership Development - Introduction
- Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
- Inside Leaders vs. Outside Leaders
- Transformational Leadership
- Leadership for the 21st Century
- The Transleader
- Three Traits of Effective Leadership
- Importance of Compassion in Leadership
- An Important Advice to Future Leaders
- Avoiding Focus on Quarterly Earnings
- Reinventing Management for 21st Century
- Ambidextrous Leadership
- Invest in Oneself
- Social Media Skills for Leaders
- Social Stratification and Hierarchy
- The Ethical Imperative
- Leadership in the Face of Adversity
- Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence
- Leadership Theories
- Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid
- House’s Path Goal Theory
- Great Man Theory
- Trait Theory
- LMX Theory
- Transformational Leadership
- Transactional Leadership
- Continuum of Leadership Behaviour
- Likert’s Management System
- Hersey Blanchard Model
- Fiedler’s Contingency Model
- Leadership and Trust
- How to be a Good Leader ?
- Effective Leadership Skills
- Leadership Vision
- Different Types of Power
- Women and Leadership
- What are the Challenges in Leadership ?
- Tips to Overcome Challenges in Leadership
- Role of Communication in Overcoming Leadership Challenges
- Role of Management/Organization in Overcoming Leadership Challenges
- Tips to Strengthen Bond Among Employees
- Vision of Leaders has to be Actualized by Middle Management for Organizational Success
- Leadership in the Time of Epic Changes and Struggles Over Ethics and Values
- Great Leadership is about Initiating, Sustaining, and Carrying through Ones Vision
- Cultural Dimensions of Leadership
- Scarcity vs. Abundant Mindsets in Leaders
- Different Folks, Different Strokes! The Many Leadership Styles in the Real World
- Persuasion and the Art of Changing Minds are Essential for Contemporary Leaders
- Managing in Chaos: A Necessary Skill for Managers and Leaders
- Leadership in the Contemporary World
- Need to Develop Network Thinking and Seventh Sense for Success in the 21st Century
- Why Do Some Business Leaders Attain Greatness Whereas Others Fail?
- Hands on Approach to Leadership: The Need for Leaders to be Good Administrators
- How Great Leaders Transform Organizations, Nations, Societies, and the World
- Why Business and Political Leaders Must be Institution Builders to Ensure Longevity
- Qualities of an Inspirational Leader and their Benefits
- Foundation Pillars of Successful Leaders
- Self Assessment for Leadership: Assessing the Strengths and Vulnerabilities for Improving Leadership Effectiveness
- Self Motivation for Leaders
- Techniques for Developing Self-Motivation
- Leadership Development Plan
- Writing a Leadership Development Plan
- When Hope Meets Reality: The Challenges for Leaders to Sustain the Momentum
- The Challenge for Contemporary Leaders is to Restore Trust and Faith in Institutions
- The Ever Shortening Business Cycles and What They Mean for Business Leaders
- Leadership Case Study: Steve Jobs - The Man Who Ushered in the Smartphone Revolution
- Why Leaders Must be in Control over the Direction and Pace of Organizational Change
- The 4Cs of Leadership Styles for Leadership in the Digital Age
- Lessons for Business Leaders from the Downfall of Charles Ghosn of Renault - Nissan
- Truly Great Leadership is All about Walking the Talk in All Aspects of Being Leaders
- Examining the Crisis of the Leader – Follower Relationship in the Present Times
- How Great Leaders use a Mix of Micromanagement and Hands off Approaches
- Leadership during Crises is what Distinguishes Great Leaders from Manager Leaders
- What the Dalai Lama can teach Corporate Honchos about Leadership and Management
- Why we Need more Emotionally Intelligent Leaders and Managers in Chaotic Times
- Why the Digital Age Calls for a New Approach to Leadership and Team Management
- Business Leadership in the Age of Nationalism and Populism and the Rocky Road Ahead
- Leadership in a Collapsing World When Faced with Insurmountable Problems
- The Importance of Thought Leaders and Influencers in the Age of Social Media
- Leadership by Optics Management: Taking the Howdy Modi Event as a Case Study
- What Should Leaders do in Low Growth and Recessionary Times
- What Ails India Inc. and is it a Crisis of Leadership or a Structural Issue to be Addressed?
- The Tyranny of the Quarterly Results: Why Business Leaders must Avoid Short-Termism
- The Perils of Leaders and Their Personality Cults in Times of Authoritarian Rulers
- Leadership in the Digital Age and Why Contemporary Leaders Must Master These Skills
- Misdemeanours by Senior Leaders Must Be Handled Firmly and the Right Message Sent
- When Hope Meets Reality: Why Visionary Leaders Have to Balance Dreams with Realities
- Power as a Managerial Tool
- Why We Need More Self Aware and Less Self Centred Leaders, Who Can Self Evaluate