Leaders come in many different types and flavors with the visionary leaders being the most prominent and cited much of the time. Names that come to mind are Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett. This report will cover the topic of visionary leadership in general as well as a focus on one leader in particular, that being Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, and how he himself signified and exemplified visionary leadership (USA Today, 2013). The author of this report is asked to what makes Bill Gates a visionary with some specific examples. The author is also asked to clarify and explain what a visionary leader brings to the workplace they operate in. The author is asked whether a visionary leader is needed in every workplace with a clarification of why or why not. Finally, the business conditions that call for visionary leadership are also asked for.
The author of this response would offer that Bill Gates is a visionary in some part based on an opening of the market but a lot of it is that he took full advantage of that opening and did so with adeptness and skill. Throughout the course of personal computers developing into what they have become today, the two names that spring to the forefront are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of Macintosh/Apple and Windows fame, respectively. The late Steve Jobs is certainly in a class of own on his own merits but Bill Gates led a company that has truly come to dominate the personal computer market (Microsoft, 2013).
Bill Gates is a visionary because his vision and the creations he helped foster and create have literally change the way we live, work and function. The two most notable examples of this are the Windows operating system as it has evolved over the years as well as the same with Microsoft Office productivity software which includes computer staples like Word, Excel and Outlook. For the more advanced users, there are SharePoint and Access (Microsoft, 2013).
What makes his leadership visionary is not hard to see. One just need to try and imagine what life would be like right now if Windows, Excel and Word did not exist. Obviously, something else would have come up in its place but it's easier to see the point if one were to rewind back to the 1980's or even the early 1990's when the use of the programs was in its nascent stages or even non-existent. The visionary leadership of Bill Gates has led to a transformation that has enabled and allowed for massive increases of productivity across all sorts of industries and the information sciences sphere is far from being the only example of this (Microsoft, 2013).
The visionary leader brings many great things to an organization that allow an organization to survive and thrive. Examples include the foresight to know where industry currently is as well as where it is likely headed. It's not an exact science but general trends are not hard to spot and when an opening exists where a company can gain a competitive or absolute advantage, the visionary leader knows when to strike. This is why Bill Gates' Microsoft literally dominates the personal computer operating system market as well as the productivity software market. Heck, even Macintosh users can use Microsoft Office on their Apple computers if they so choose. That is how deep Microsoft has extended its tentacles.
However, visionary leaders exist even in organizations that are not clear behemoths like Microsoft. There are many people that act as consultants or leaders that spot problems with both culture and process and are able to quickly define what is going wrong, how to fix it and they can get buy-in from the parties involved because they can communicate the issue clearly and concisely and they can get people excited about making the changes necessary to prevent further loss of income and market share. This is what a leader like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs can bring to many firms.
That all being said, visionary leaders do not have a place in all organizations. For example, a visionary leader could certainly do well at the upper echelons of a company but the lower levels of management such as Wal-Mart at the store level would not lend itself to being usable by a visionary leader because their power would be limited and the major decisions of the company are mostly made well above the store level. There is much to be said of leaders not making a bad situation worse or killing the golden goose, but visionary leaders really need to have the knowledge and the actual power to make their decisions. If either one of those is missing, a true visionary leadership quest is really not in the cards. Having a leader that is simply competent and adept at their job is more than enough in most cases. This is not to say that excellence should not be strived for at all levels of employment and management but only certain have the real opportunity to be visionary leaders. However, one can always cut their teeth in a lower role until they can thrive on their own.
The business conditions that lend themselves to visionary leadership are not hard to spot. One of them is a changing industry/culture that demands that a firm evolve or die. A great example of this is the video rental industry. With the advent of internet and television streaming, the act of actually going to a store to rent movies is become less and less common very quickly. The only company that really has a niche in that right now is RedBox and that is only because they use kiosks at places like convenience and fast food stores, places people still go anyway, whereas making an extra trip to a place like Blockbuster is usually now eschewed by the public.
Blockbuster was in a death spiral because their business model was quickly dying. However, Dish Network has since acquired them and is now trying to turn them into more of a RedBox/Netlfix operation which is called for since the status quo would eventually lead Blockbuster down the same road as Montgomery Ward and Circuit City, with the latter happening for much the same reason as Netflix. Even Best Buy is doing fairly poorly because of the Internet taking their market share and they'll face the same issue very soon if they're not careful (Macke, 2013).
This is where visionary leadership comes in because the visionary leader must make sure that the company evolves and the leader must figure out and implement a plant that allows for the company to move in a direction that allows for thriving and surviving. Another condition that lends itself to a visionary leader is a start-up in a tight industry like the personal computer market or MP3 players. The chances of a new firm entering into either one of this are very slim because the market is already very tight. A visionary leader would be called for because a regular leader would generally not have the skills or knowledge to know what would be needed to differentiate from the rest of the pack and thus make inroads into the market share that is already closely guarded.
This leads to a third condition that lends itself to a market leader and that is an established firm that is losing its edge, although is not being forced in obsolescence, and a good example of that would be Dell. Dell's bread and butter has been the corporate server market for years although they do fairly well in the laptop/computer market as well. However, other firms like HP and such eat their lunch because they are focusing on the demands of consumers…