One very important gift of a person who is a leader is that of seeing the invisible. Leaders take what is visible, what exists in an organization, and then mixes it with what isn’t, with what is not yet, and comes up with a vision of what might be.
And then a good leader takes what is invisible and with the use of words and images, helps others get a glimpse of a new future. This requires careful attention to the language and the symbols that are used to evoke vision where there is not one. It requires thoughtful conversation with those who are trying to see the invisible that the leader sees.
Now a leader does this visioning with the purpose of helping to draw people into a future that the leader thinks is good for the organization.
But, there are couple of things that I have seen leaders do that works against the goal of getting others to join in the journey toward something unseen. One of them is the leader’s forgetting that others see invisible futures and they don’t always want to give those up. The leader fails to help the follower name the losses that will result in the leader’s vision developing.
And because the leader doesn’t help others see the losses, she might lack empathy with those who don’t have the same vision of the invisible. When a leader does not seem to care that others pay the price of a lost vision, the leader will run into resistance and be less able to bring those people along as the organization moves forward. The loss of energy then reduces the chance of the leader’s vision becoming visible.
When a leader recognizes the losses that others suffer and attends to those with sensitivity, others might be able to grieve their losses and open up to the new future with hope and action. Grieving is central to followers being able to be freed to move into the invisible future.