What type of leaders or leadership does our world need in this unprecedented time of great peril, perplexity and uncertainy? In wartime, great leaders arose with peculiar qualities and personalities suited for the challenges of their time. Our world is now at war and it’s NOT nations fighting against nations, but we are under siege and attack by an invisible biological enemy – CORONA VIRUS.
In this article, we will discuss and explore the present state of our world and make comparision to its former state in the times of the world wars. We will highlight the causatives, motives and perpetrators of these wars, and the carnage and fatalities they brought upon the earth; then look at lessons learnt. We will also identify the leaders and leadership styles that rose beyond self and national interests to combat these dark forces to secure the peace and prosperity that we’ve enjoyed to this day.
The thoughts in these articles are the interweaving of natural and spiritual accounts or perspectives, to create a new tapestry of understanding and a narrative that can add and influence global conversations about our current crisis. Most of the views and opinions being propagated today in an attempt to explain our present pandemic and problems are either extreme left or extreme right. The moderate and centrist viewpoints have been hijacked and snuffed out by extremists. But it’s time for another voice that is neither left, right nor middle but transcends all, represents all views and is inspired from ABOVE to come to the fore! This is the overarching, insightful, truthful and prophetic voice of God’s Kingdom.
World War 1
In World War I, the world faced common enemies in the form of Austria-Hungary and Germany. World War I, also known as the Great War, began in 1914 after the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. His murder catapulted into a war across Europe that lasted until 1918. During the conflict, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States (the Allied Powers). World War I saw unprecedented levels of carnage and destruction. By the time the war was over, and the Allied Powers claimed victory, more than 16 million people—soldiers and civilians alike—were dead.
The world is forever grateful to leaders like Woodrow Wilson (USA) David Lloyd George (UK), Vittorio Emanuele Orlando (Italy) and Georges Clemenceau (France), also known as the ‘The Council of Four’ who amalgamated their geniuses and resources to put an end to their common foes, bloodshed and human suffering.
World War 2
The instability created in Europe by the First World War (1914-18) set the stage for another international conflict–World War II–which broke out two decades later and would prove even more devastating. Rising to power in an economically and politically unstable Germany, Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party, rearmed the nation and signed strategic treaties with Italy and Japan to further his ambitions of world domination. Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 drove Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II. Over the next six years, the conflict would take more lives and destroy more land and property around the globe than any previous war. Among the estimated 45-60 million people killed were 6 million Jews murdered in Nazi concentration camps as part of Hitler’s diabolical “Final Solution,” now known as the Holocaust.
In this midst of this global chaos, leaders like Winston Churchill (United Kingdom); Joseph Stalin (Soviet Union); Charles de Gaulle (France); and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman (United States) put aside their differences, marshalled their forces and resources and ended the Axis powers of evil led by Adolf Hitler (Germany), Benito Mussolini (Italy), and Hideki Tojo (Japan[t1] ) (Michael Ray, Leaders of World War 1).
World War 3
Today, the world is at war again and this time, the enemy is invisible, evasive and elusive. This enemy (COVID-19) is a biological virus that has infected 21.6 million and killed 774K worldwide. COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air, and quickly fall on floors or surfaces. People can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within close proximity of someone who has COVID-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth. As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surges past the 21 million mark globally and deaths surpass 770,000, clinicians and pathologists are struggling to understand the damage wrought by the coronavirus as it tears through the body. They are realizing that although the lungs are ground zeroed, its reach can extend to many organs including the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, gut, and brain.
“[The disease] can attack almost anything in the body with devastating consequences,” says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz of Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital. “Its ferocity is breathtaking and humbling[t2] .” (Harlan Krumholz, 2020)
COVID-19 is not only infecting millions and killing people by the thousands, it’s pulverising and destroying the global economy, health system, social norms, education, religious traditions, sports, entertainment, family and everything that’s essential to human existence and survival. This enemy affects the world far greater than the previous world wars put together. This global pandemic is becoming our World War 3 and the question we must seriously ask is: What kind of leaders does the world need today to confront and defeat this global foe and ensure peace and stability on earth again?
As our world situation changes dramatically, situational leaders [t3] (leaders who can change and adapt to fit our present crisis) must rise (Paul Hersey, Ken Blanchard, 1969). They are current and emerging leaders free of ambition and self-interest who would sacrifice all for the planet and its inhabitants. Who are these leaders? Where can we find them?
Many leaders will rise in this dark hour as opportunists and will use this crisis for personal gain and advancing their twisted agenda. As Winston Churchill famously observed “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste”[t4] (Andrew Low, 2016). Some will use this crisis for good and some for absolute destruction. What the world needs today are KINGDOM LEADERS rising in every sphere of society (politics, science, education, economy, law, sports, entertainment, church, family and community etc) with a single vision of Global Redemption and Restoration based on an eternal mandate from above. This is a new phenomenon in corporate, business and secular settings, but they are exactly the leaders who are appropriate for this hour. These leaders’ attributes, mindsets and mission will be our focus here.
Let’s look at the first key aspect of these leaders.
Each one of these leaders who arose during the times of World War were Visionary. I believe were are also looking for visionary leaders today.
A visionary leader has a clear idea of the future and what it should look like. They set concrete steps to bring the vision to reality, motivate and lead a team of people in that direction. Habakkuk said that, vision is a future that one must capture, write down on tablets so others may read it, be inspired and run towards it (Habakkuk 2:2-4). What kind of future vision should we capture and design for our world today? A future conjured up in man’s mind? Or the nexus of man’s best imagination and God’s inspiration?
Consider the following quotes about visionary leaders:
“Great people stand out from others by their visions and not much by their intelligence.” - Amit Ray
“To be a visionary leader, the future must be your home.” - Emmanuel Apetsi
“I have a vision and not a mere "dream".” - Mwanandeke Kindembo
“You cannot expect people with small ideas to understand, accept, or appreciate, your big visions.” - Germany Kent
“We will never realize the vision in division” - Saji Ijiyemi
“Visionaries will always meet opposition from weak minds but the seeds they plant always save the world” - Bangambiki Habyarimana
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” - Proverbs 29:18 KJV
Visionary leaders don’t fit the traditional mould. They’re notorious for breaking from what’s normal and expected. They lead with intention and enthusiasm that galvanises their supporters to happily follow. Here are some common traits of a visionary leader.
They don’t settle for “good enough.” In fact, good enough is NOT good enough! Visionary leaders delight in trying new things, explore new opportunities and they stubbornly stay the course. They are resilient and resolute. They never give up, particularly when the going gets dangerously rough!
They are tough and determined individuals who are not easily intimidated. They are prepared to address and confront the status quo or ideas, methods, practices and entrenched policies and institutions. They have mastered resisting pressures both internal and external. Visionaries aren’t afraid of failure, only of never trying. They cultivate that same tenacity in their teammates and followers.
Strategic planning is a skill many visionary leaders possess. They conceptualise the future then strategize tactically on how to get there. They’re not always detail-oriented but have collaborative and consultation skills that allow managers and detailed planners involvement. Their vision or the big picture provides everyone with a great launching pad into the future.
4. Risk taking
Visionary leaders understand risks (doing something that involves danger, loss and failure) but are willing to take them. They’re ok with making mistakes for they perceive them as opportunities to grow and be better.
5. Great Communicator
They are skilled at communicating (moving information and ideas effectively and efficiently) and getting others to believe and go along with them.
They’re big picture focused and highly organized because of the team support and contribution they gather around them. Often, visionary leaders see the overall framework and structure better than others and can determine who should do what, when, where and why.
Visionary leaders are driven and can maintain incredible focus. Once goals are identified, steps are immediately taken to achieve them, even if it means changing the minds of those around them. They display work ethics and characteristics that they want to see in their team.
Visionaries are inherently positive people. They see the future as bright and problems as temporary. They see strategy in obstacles, light in darkness, opportunity in chaos and the glass is always half full. Those around them draw strength from their steadfast optimism.
Visionaries draw people with a welcoming, open persona that brings the best qualities out of them. Their magnetism derives from their authentic self. They don't try to be someone else, nor do they change who they are by external influences. Their locus (power source) is internal, true to themselves and honest in their dealings with others. They are transparent, vulnerable and unafraid to display their imperfections and admit their mistakes or shortcomings.
Visionary leaders know that team members’ buy-in is readily achieved when they’re invited to participate in the creative process. They harness the strengths of their team members to balance their weaknesses and embrace creativity and new ideas. They can mobilise CEOs, managers, executives, staff and every leader out of silos to work together collectively and collaboratively. Information is shared organically, and everyone takes responsibility and is part of the integrated whole. Visionaries understand that it takes everyone’s gifts, talents and skills to construct the best roadmap that ensures a successful journey into the future.
Visionaries have a great imagination. They aren’t afraid to ask questions that stretch imaginations and push the cerebral boundary. Questions like “why, what if, how about this and that,” and they instil a love for enquiry, critical thinking and deep curiosity in those around them. They influence and challenge followers to produce creative ideas, products, and services that lead to fostering innovative culture.
They are unprejudiced and willing to try new things, hear and consider new ideas. They’re great listeners and though ardently dedicated to the big picture, they’re flexible on how to reach that vision. They can assimilate information from many sources to develop creative solutions. They don’t just think outside of the box, they have no boxes!
13. Emotionally intelligent
They’re not only intelligent in the traditional sense of the word, but also emotionally intelligent. They’re aware of their own emotions, and intuitively aware of the emotions of others. Through empathy, visionary leaders employ emotions when presenting information, assigning tasks and engaging with their people. They understand the power of feelings and are capable of understanding and being compassionate to those around them.
They’re always very positive which inadvertently influences and motivates those around them toward success. Since they’re constantly fuelled by passion and purpose, this inspiration becomes an integral source of motivation for followers and the organisation. They naturally make others passionate about a goal or vision.
There are some challenges that could come with being a visionary leader. A few examples might include the following:
Big picture vs Details
Since visionary leaders are inherently big picture focused, important details can be overlooked. To avoid this pitfall, visionary leaders must staff this weakness with detail-oriented people (managers) in a collaborative manner.
Future vs Today
Visionary leaders can sacrifice the present-day circumstances on the idea of the future. They may ignore important issues that need their attention in the moment because they are so future-oriented. Nurturing great relationships with workers/followers, spouse/children, social circles can keep them grounded and be in the moment. They should celebrate the journey and not just the destination.
Visionary leaders may miss other opportunities because they are so task and goal focused. When plan and strategy don’t seem to work, they can quickly abandon them for new ones rather than tweaking, adjusting and remaining flexible.
In this Covid-19 era, who do you think from Donald Trump (USA), Boris Johnson UK), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Xi Jinping (China) etc. has the right temperament and character, the ethical, inclusive and compelling vision to influence other world leaders, governments and nations towards defeating this present threat? And guaranteeing the freedoms of all peoples? Or, are there leaders unbeknown to many who will rise from places least expected to lead the world in this turbulent hour with a redemptive vision anchored in the will of God? Leaders who will sacrifie all self interests on the altar of world safety and security and the right of all makind to life, properity and freedom. Who will carry a vision though firecly resisted, disputed and assaulted by all possible forces yet endure to the end?
Certainly leaders who embody the following statement can:
"A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”
- Isaiah 42:3-4 NKJV
I am ending this article with a whole host of questions rather than assertive statements because I welcome your input and participation is this conversation.
Feel free to comment even if it’s oppositional and contradictory as it makes for a robust, insightful and balanced dialogue. As long as we maintain a healthy respect and regard for everyone’s views and opinions.
Stay tuned for more Leadership Articles.
Victoria Slavic (2020) Traits of Visionary Leaders
By Meredith Wadman, Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, Jocelyn Kaiser, Catherine Matacic (2020), How Does Coronavirus Kill
[t7]Need a clear conclusion