The Four Stages of Visionary Leadership

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Vision Planning

I have reflected over a decade on the question of how visionaries develop. These are some initial thoughts that I want to share with blog readers as I think out loud a bit. I would really appreciate your comments and input toward the development of these ideas.

Stage One: VISION CATCHING

Every visionary leaders starts by following someone else’s vision. Here, the fundamental practice of following well precedes and develops the ability to lead well. During this time, a future visionary learns to submit to godly authority. In this stage the future visionary’s style is shaped by the strengths and limitation of the lead visionary. Strengths provide a foundational modeling opportunity. Limitations and weakness forge convictions that will eventually shape the values of the future leader.

Stage Two VISION CASTING

Eventually the visionary leader starts casting vision themselves. There are three nuances of how this vision relates to the the prior vision-catching content. In other words, most of early vision casting is found “underneath” the vision of a leader and/or organization of the developing visionary. The visionary casts vision: a) in support of, b) in relation to, and finally c) in contrast with.

  • In Support Of: The first practice is recasting the vision that already exists. The visionary is articulating and communicating what was given to them. The art of communication is matured as commitment, passion and ownership of the vision progresses. For example, a student pastor shares the greater vision of the church he has been serving for the last two years with his seminary buddies.
  • In Relation To: Eventually the emerging visionary will create and develop their own initiatives or ministry models within the larger vision. This mini-step takes the art of visionary leadership to a new level. As a visionary leader “builds” within their “domain” of the larger ministry they are responsible to relate what they are doing to the bigger picture. That is, they are advancing and enhancing the vision that they “caught” by casting new vision for their team, event, group, area or department. Our student pastor, for example, is recruiting two dozen new volunteer leaders for a high-school, gospel saturation strategy he developed. This strategy and mini-vision is developed in concert with the broader church vision.
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About Will Mancini

Will Mancini emerged from the trenches of local church leadership to found Auxano, a first-of-kind consulting ministry that focuses on vision clarity. As a “clarity evangelist,” Will has served as vision architect for hundreds of churches across the country including the leading churches within Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Non-denominational settings. His clients include notable organizations like Leadership Network and Upward Unlimited and pastors like Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado. Will’s style blends the best of three worlds: the process thinking from the discipline of engineering, the communications savvy as an ad agency executive, and the practical theology as a pastoral leader. His pastoral experience includes helping lead two different congregations to over 3,000 in weekend attendance in 10 years- Clear Creek Community Church and FaithBridge UMC. Will’s education includes a ThM in Pastoral Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Penn State. He is the author of Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement, a Leadership Network Publication, and of Building Leaders.
Check out the awesome free resource: Church Unique Summary

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