The second quality of leaders (see the full list here) is vision.
Leaders need to know just what they’re moving towards. Maybe it’s a profitable vintage clothing boutique; or a team in which everyone knows their role — and gets along; or a company that specializes (and profits from) innovation — whatever it is, leaders need a vision.
And this, again, is what distinguishes a manager from a leader. A manager may be supervising a team or a product line, but have no real sense of the direction in which she wants to take that team or product line. A leader, on the other hand, is moving towards something. Many leaders even feel a higher calling to move in a certain direction.
Here’s a common example: A friend of mine told me recently that she was having trouble in her new role as PTA president at her school, because she felt she had to satisfy everyone’s needs.
My heart went out to her, because as a leader, she doesn’t have to satisfy everyone’s needs. To be a strong leader, she needs an idea of what the community needs. Yes, in an ideal world she would deal respectfully with parents’ ideas and complaints. But as president, she also gets to set a vision for what she thinks the school as a whole needs and follow it.
In your own quest for leadership, do you know what your vision is? Have you ever articulated to itself? Try sitting for a few minutes to think about what you really want from the organization that you lead (or want to lead). It could be a fruitful exercise.