Dr. Anthony Hamlet is an experienced educator with over 28 years in the field. He has worked in affluent and impoverished schools & districts and has a proven track record of turning around underperforming schools and school districts. Dr. Hamlet has served in various roles, including case manager, teacher, principal, and district administrator, earning five principal of the year awards and being a two-time finalist for the Green Garner “Urban Superintendent of the Year” Award. As superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, he made ground-breaking changes that helped students do better in school and led to a huge drop in the number of students who were suspended. Dr. Hamlet holds degrees from the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University and has completed continuing education programs at Harvard University and Howard University. Before his educational career, as a former NFL player, he played for the Miami Hurricanes and was part of three national championship teams. He is currently the President & CEO of CSI Strategies LLC, a university professor, and educational leadership, change, and transformation consultant.
When someone in the future opens a time capsule from this era, tallies up buzzwords of the 1990s, “vision” will be high on the list. Schools, school districts, institutions of higher learning, corporations and organizations everywhere want leaders who have it. It seems the most basic plans are labeled as “visions” for the new millennium. “Unfortunately, the exaltation of vision often leaves one question unanswered: Once you’re done praising it, what do you do about it? (Lashway, 1997)
The more we change, the more we stay the same, just as in the 1990’s, visionary leadership continues to be a buzzword in the 2020’s as well. However, simply having a vision is not enough. Developing a vision requires a deep understanding of the organization and its goals, as well as a clear sense of where the organization is heading in the future. These leaders must also be able to articulate their vision in a way that is embraced and resonates with their audience. They must also know, understand and be able to ascertain the differences between visionary leadership and standard leadership.
One of the key ingredients in visionary leadership is authenticity, which has become yet another buzzword for leaders today. Authenticity is defined as “worthy of acceptance or belief, conforming to fact or reality, trustworthy, not imaginary, false or imitation.” Authenticity is what distinguishes true leaders from destructive achievers and pseudo-leaders. Leaders of Theranos, Wirecard and leaders of Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal have moved this topic to the top of a long list of musts for today’s leaders.
There are distinct differences between standard leadership and visionary leadership, and the two should never be mistaken for the same. Visionary Leaders increase efficiency by moving decision-making responsibility to the frontline. Efficiency is achieved with limited supervision. To make frontline responsibility effective, leadership must give educators the opportunity to develop quality decision-making skills and learn to trust them. Innovative educational institutions leverage forward-thinking visionary leadership to drive student success beyond traditional metrics.
In contrast standard leadership treats employees as if they are robots, expecting them to follow instructions without question. This approach is based on the assumption that only leadership is capable of making quality decisions. This is known as command-and-control leadership. Low efficiency is caused by the disconnect between management and the frontline. Management is preoccupied with dealing with issues that affect them while ignoring problems that impact the frontline. Frontline issues are only addressed when they escalate into major problems.
Conventional educational establishments, characterized by inflexible, assessment-based curriculums, rely on traditional leadership approaches.
The latter form of leadership is non-empowering, uninspiring, and counterproductive for a vision-based educational organization.
Vision exists when people in an organization share an explicit agreement on the values, beliefs, purposes, and goals that should guide their behavior. More simply, it’s called “an internal compass.” A good vision not only has worthy goals but also challenges and stretches everyone in the school. Vision is an educational platform that incorporates the school’s beliefs about the preferred aims, methods, and climate, thereby creating a “community of mind” that establishes behavioral norms.
Developing, implementing and progress monitoring a vision requires a clear plan of action, as well as the ability to align resources and stakeholders behind the vision. Visionary leaders must be able to identify and address any barriers to implementation and be willing to make difficult decisions and take calculated risks in order to achieve their goals. They must also be able to track progress and adjust their approach as needed to stay on track and ensure success.
Continuous communication and engagement with stakeholders is crucial for articulating and monitoring a vision during development, implementation and monitoring for results over time. Visionary leaders must be able to effectively communicate the progress of their vision to all stakeholders and be willing to listen to feedback and adjust their approach as needed. This requires a high level of transparency and accountability, as well as a willingness to be open and honest about the challenges and successes of the organization.
In order to be highly effective, visionary leaders must also possess a number of key competencies, including strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, communication, and the ability to build and maintain relationships. They must be able to balance short-term goals with long-term vision and be willing to make tough decisions to achieve their goals.
In summary, Visionary leadership is of paramount importance and the importance, which cannot be overstated. Visionary leaders have the ability and power to inspire and motivate others and to drive real change and transformation within organizations. By developing and implementing a clear and compelling vision, and by authentically communicating and monitoring that vision over time, visionary leaders can help to create a better future for all stakeholders. To accomplish this, they must follow several key steps:
- Establish a clear and inspiring vision: Visionary leaders should develop a comprehensive and inspiring vision that aligns with the organization’s values, goals, and purpose. This vision should serve as a roadmap for the future, providing direction and guidance for all members.
- Communicate the vision effectively: Visionary leaders must convey their vision to stakeholders in a manner that is relatable, understandable, and inspiring. This communication should be consistent and ongoing, ensuring that everyone is on board and working towards the same goals.
- Foster a culture of collaboration and innovation: Encourage team members to work together and contribute their ideas and perspectives. By creating an environment that values creativity, visionary leaders can facilitate the development of new strategies and solutions that drive the organization forward.
- Empower and develop team members: Visionary leaders should invest in the growth and development of their team members, providing them with the necessary resources and opportunities to succeed. This includes offering training, mentorship, and support, as well as fostering a culture of trust and accountability.
- Monitor progress and adjust the course as needed: Regularly review the progress being made towards achieving the vision and make adjustments to the plan as necessary. This may involve revisiting goals, revising strategies, or reevaluating resources, but it is essential for ensuring the vision remains relevant and achievable.
- Celebrate successes and learn from setbacks: Recognize and celebrate the achievements of the team, both large and small, while also acknowledging setbacks and learning from them. This promotes a culture of continuous improvement and encourages team members to remain resilient and motivated.
- Engage with stakeholders: Maintain open lines of communication with all stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and the wider community. By actively seeking feedback and incorporating it into the organization’s plans and strategies, visionary leaders demonstrate a commitment to transparency and inclusivity.
By following these steps, visionary leaders can effectively transform their organizations, driving positive transformational change and fostering a bright future for all stakeholders. With a compelling vision and a steadfast commitment to its realization, these leaders can truly make a lasting impact on their organizations and the world around them.