Visionary Leadership in Uncertain Times

Welcome to a brand-new year, full of room to dream and grow. But after enduring 2020, dreaming and forming a vision for this year might feel a little scary. And that’s OK. Kathryn M.Tack, executive coach and 4word board member, shares how she’s learned to follow God’s urging to cast a vision for the future, even if casting that vision feels like the last thing you should be doing.

Tell us a little about yourself!

I was born and raised in the inner city of Detroit, the youngest of eight children. I learned quickly to work hard and speak up to be heard. I was the only one in my family to attend college and build a business from scratch. Maybe it was because I was the youngest and felt that I had to prove something.

I love to gather people and create a fun environment, set a beautiful table, serve good food, and host meaningful conversation. In my spare time, I am doing that for myself and my family.  

God is at the center of everything I think about, especially when it comes to leadership. I live by certain principles found in Scripture: 

As Christian leaders, what distinguishes our visioning process?

Few things are more important to effective leadership than vision. Good leaders foresee something out there that others don’t see. Godly leaders must first have a vision of who God is and the future He holds for them. The word “vision” comes from the Hebrew word chazown, which means “dream” or “revelation” or “vision.” Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision the people perish.”—no dream, no revelation, no vision, no sense of our created purpose, then we perish. 

The Christian vision process begins with the foundational belief that God created you for a purpose. If God is not included, you get lost chasing the wind, as the author of Ecclesiastes 1:14 warns.   

Professionally, you use vision to reveal to others “what is” and the possibility of “what could be.” It makes time travel possible for a group of people to suddenly see a preferable future.

In my leadership experience, I have learned that a clearly-stated vision provides clarity and insight so employees can peer into the future and gain clarity to generate possibilities in their mind’s eye for themselves, for their organization, and for their teams.

Why is it important to have a vision?

Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. God wants to use us to do amazing things, whether it is personally or professionally. He wants us to pursue many of our wildest dreams. The Bible is filled with stories of people who accomplished things no one thought possible, and He’s still using the most unlikely people to do the impossible today.  

Vision brings accomplishments to life. When people talk about their achievements, they do not talk earnings. They talk about the products they made and the heroic people with whom they did it. The most practical advantage of vision is that it tells a story of what is possible, but it has to be authentic. You can’t fake vision. 

After going through 2020, it’s understandable that some may be feeling hopeless or incredibly hesitant to dream for 2021.  How can someone open themselves up to hope again and regain the confidence they need to cast a vision of 2021?

The purpose of any vision is success. For a Christian, success means becoming who God want us to be. Right now, in what I have been calling “our life and leadership in the Twilight Zone,” God is now asking us to walk our talk, to live our faith for a confused world in the most difficult of times.

If we say we are a true disciple of Christ, we can trust God. He is our Hope. If we believe in God’s providence, God (by His divine energy) preserves all His creatures and directs everything in this world to their appointed end. The ultimate end of God’s providence is that His name would be glorified, especially during the most difficult times. 

“All things work together for good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” 

Romans 8:28

All the forces that are arranged today in opposition to God—sin and evil, corruption and injustice, greed and exploitation—are held in check by God’s providential rule. As Christians, we have no place for pessimism, anxiety, pride, or defeat.

As leaders, perspective is everything. Creating a vision during crisis and uncertainty requires bold leadership and faith. We want to replace fear and anxiety with what we know to be true.  Crisis will be here and more will come. I would remind us that things will get better. They say that Jesus used the words “fear not” 365 times; one time for every day of the year. Don’t criticize an unfinished plan; what we know is what gets us through and gives us hope.  

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope.” 

romans 15:4

Esther was put in a very dark and difficult position “for such a time as this” and yet envisioned for her people that they would be saved. Like Esther, we have a destiny to fulfill. God has placed before each of us opportunities and responsibilities brimming with divine significance during these dark times. We may be the only light and salvation others will see. If God has a vision for what you are to do with your allotment of years, you must begin. What a tragedy it would be to miss God’s vision for your life!

What has helped you confidently cast a vision for something?

First, I have to know that God has called me to my vision. God speaks in different ways to different people. Prayer/listening to God’s voice is paramount, but that takes practice and discipline every day over a long period of time as I listen and watch. The best way to cast vision is by telling a story. 

My vision is to satisfy the souls of hungry and thirsty leaders. I was the owner, operator, and CEO for a $12 million restaurant and management company. I went into business to serve and feed hungry and thirsty people and see the smiles on their faces as they experienced my food.  People would ask me all the time, “How did you build a successful company, raise three children, and stay married to the same man and make him happy in the process?” Good question! How did I do that? 

That common question being asked over and over helped me launch the vision for my executive coaching business. God was calling me to take my passion for serving and feeding people inside organizations and satisfy the souls of hungry and thirsty leaders by confidently coaching them with the same principles God had taught me. Because I saw them come alive in my own life as a leader, I could confidently cast the vision. Now, after 12 years of executive coaching, many of my clients have said to me, “You saved my life. As a matter of fact, you gave me a life.”  

To be confident in casting vision, lead your life instead of just accepting your life. The power of choice is the greatest God-given power that a person possesses. Choice is critical to owning your dreams. Reaching your God-given potential requires taking responsibility for yourself and your life. It means taking an active leadership role with yourself. How do you do that? By choosing to say “yes” to God.  

Are there any tools or resources you would recommend for casting a vision?

There are so many tools and resources you can look up online.  Here are a few thoughts…

Below are some articles and books that will take you through a vision process:

Pray and Journal. I suggest that you start with buying a journal to capture your prayers and dreams. Take time to pray, think, read, study, reflect, and write it all down.  

Hire a Mentor. If you are really serious about accomplishing a God-given vision, find a mentor to help you get there. You will reap a huge benefit and get to where you want to go much quicker.

Plan and Prepare. God may call you at the most unlikely time. Be prepared.

Vision Board. If you wish, buy a vision board to capture pictures to begin posting what you see (what God is speaking to you about) and then take the next step by being obedient to what you believe God is calling you to do with your gifts and talents.

Vision to Reality© starts with good questions:

Vision is a leader’s most potent weapon. If you are concerned with the tension between what is and what could be (and if you believe God is behind your concerns), then chances are God is moving you. You will have to pay the price by stepping out, so embrace it. You have the opportunity now to take you, others, or your organization somewhere on purpose for His glory.  

Kathryn M.Tack is an executive coach who partners with CEOs, senior executives, and leaders to help them realize significantly higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in their leadership.

Kathryn began her career as a speaker and facilitator. She launched a major entrepreneurial effort in 1983 when she purchased, franchised and developed a 12 restaurant and management services company in the hospitality industry. For 15 years Kathryn was president and CEO of Good Times Concepts Ltd., a multi-million dollar enterprise that employed a staff of 350. Drawing on her experience as a business owner Kathryn has a natural affinity for the development and training of peak performers and loves to see others use their God-given talents to achieve their greatest potential. 

She has and continues to coach leading and emerging Presidents, CEOs and senior executives of small to medium businesses. Her blend of experience as a CEO, executive coach, wife and mother brings a profound depth of wisdom and practical application to the field. Kathryn has a dual career as wife, mother of three children—Nicole, Aaron and Ivy—and six grandchildren.  

This blog is sponsored by ARMORED, a memoir, a love story, and practical leadership guide to managing crisis on your own terms. Click here to order ARMORED and use promo code “4WORD” to save $10 off a $40 or more purchase.

(Offer good through January 31, 2021)