John Maxwell, one of the great leadership experts of our time, is often quoted, “Leadership is Influence – nothing more, nothing less”. At DISHER we like to say, DISHER Leadership is POSITIVE Influence. But how does a leader make the right kind of impact with his/her team members, customers, and community?

In a recent blog, Are You the Best Leader You Can Be?, I shared DISHER’s leadership model. It outlines our Leadership Virtues, Personal Virtues, Culture Characteristics, and Responsibilities. There is nothing magical about the model; the return only comes when our leaders practice and grow these virtues, characteristics, and skills over time. In this blog, I will focus on two foundational virtues that will help you create a strong foundation as an effective leader— 1) being visionary and 2) demonstrating humility.

Humble, Visionary Leadership

What does it look like to demonstrate humility? Humility is defined as “a modest view of one’s own importance”. It is not feeling low about oneself but caring, respecting, and treating others with kindness and respect. Someone who spends his or her life thinking about and caring for others models humility. A humble person views themself as they really are. They acknowledge weaknesses and strengths. They live in the truth.

Leadership Virtues

Visionary is defined as “thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom”. A visionary leader casts a vision, a plan for the future. He or she must not only have an idea but also a plan for excellence and purposeful growth for his or her team. This past June at our DISHER Development Day we talked about the importance of being visionary. We described the importance of turning a vision into reality: A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision will idle and drift. A vision with a plan that is acted on can change a person, a family, DISHER, and the world around us. Leaders need to make it happen.

Jeff Disher
DISHER Founder, Jeff Disher, leads his team with humility and vision at a company offsite in June.

What do the virtues of humility and being visionary have in common? In many ways, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of biological temperaments and personalities. Most often, a leader is more natural at one or the other. But the best leaders have successfully developed and blended both of these traits. Influential leaders lead with incredible modesty and unmistakable confidence. They are not born this way; leadership skills are developed over time through continuous learning and practice.

The Level 5 Leader

In the classic business book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Collins describes a rare group of leaders he calls “Level 5 Leaders”. The concept is similar to DISHER’s two leadership virtues but emphasizes the element of passion/determination with humility. It is another powerful combination. Here are a few Collins quotes that define Level 5 Leadership:

“Level 5 Leaders build enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will”.

“It is very important to grasp that Level 5 Leadership is not just about humility and modesty. It is equally about ferocious resolve, an almost stoic determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great.”

“They’re incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves.”

A historic example of a Level 5 Leader is George Washington. As you know, he was an exceptional military commander and a visionary President who played a vital role in shaping the United States during and after the American Revolution. But he was also a self-effacing, humble leader. Many people wanted him to be a king, and a less modest person may have pursued this. Instead, Washington limited his time as President and made sure the young democracy grew and flourished.

How to Develop Humility

Maybe you are a great visionary leader but lack humility. Can you learn to develop this virtue? The good news is yes you can! Here are some practical ways to develop humility in yourself and others.

+ Read about, learn from, and study people who demonstrate humility

+ Practice being interested rather than being interesting

+ Include others in the process

+ Solicit input from others

+ Give others responsibility

+ Desire for others to get the credit

+ Take the blame quicker than the credit

+ Recognize humble actions with words of affirmation, thank you notes, and direct feedback

+ Demonstrate a servant mindset

+ Participate in stewardship and encourage others to do the same

+ Treat everyone with respect regardless of who they are

+ Maintain an attitude of gratitude

How to Develop Being Visionary

+ Build in some Treetop Time

+ Read about, learn from, and study people who demonstrate visionary abilities

+ Exhibit a generous spirit

+ Practice excellence and high expectations

+ Exercise good short and long-term goal setting

+ Communicate your vision and ideas

+ Demonstrate a deep sense of mission

+ Embrace hard work and persistence to achieve mission

+ Demonstrate entrepreneurship

+ Recognize visionary actions with words of affirmation, thank you notes, and direct feedback

+ Practice vision casting with others

+ Actively participate in brainstorming/ideation sessions

+ Encourage big, broad, blue-sky thinking

+ Set high expectations for yourself and others

+ Focus on and achieve short and long-term goals and key measures

Interested in Leadership Training or Coaching?

There are many similarities between being a great athlete and being a great leader. Each requires learning, coaching, practice, and personal drive. A good coach cares about you and wants to see you reach your full potential. They will walk with you, keep you accountable, and cultivate your leadership skills. In the same spirit, DISHER offers a variety of leadership and coaching options to help you reach the next level of leadership including LEAD24/7 Focus, Supervisory Leadership, and 1-on-1 coaching.