The One Thing Leadership Is Not

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

We like nice and tidy.

But spend any time in the world today and you quickly realize that things are messy.

I was talking to a friend Saturday about leadership. And as we talked I started to realize there is a break down in what leadership truly is all about.

I think leadership has a lot more to do with vision then it does movement. Most of the time it feels like the word leadership carries with it the idea of action and movement. The the best leaders are the ones that are caring “their team” forward and pushing ahead. But I think leadership is much more about seeing the future then moving the future.

Here is an example. We look at thought leaders today not for how they created action towards the future but because they saw the future and then they moved.

The problem with all of this, I truly have no clue what comes first or what is correct. That is why this post is not nice and tidy. That is where you come into play.

Is leadership more about movement or vision?



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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Chris Cornwell

    It takes a pretty special person to embrace this. I’m not a big fan of leaders who ride the coattails of vision casting. The key to what you said is that they saw the future AND they moved. Too many times I see leaders who love to just ask questions and cast vision but are incapable or are unwilling to take the time to coach those they are supposed to be leading and mentoring. 

    • @kylereed

      agreed…action is always needed. Without it you really are not a leader I guess.

  • Jeff Goins

    I believe leadership is about momentum.

    • @kylereed

      and now that we have discussed that….I agree :)

      • Jeff Goins


  • Matt W.

    It almost always takes both. At some point great vision requires action steps. Dreams remain dreams until some tangible effort is made to achieve that dream.
    Some great visionary leaders don’t have a clue how to put feet to the their vision (of course their are exceptions – many have do have a clue), but it’s at that point that another leader partners with the dreamer to steward their dream.

    • @kylereed

      interesting. You are correct, some visionaries never make their vision happen. 
      I wonder what comes first though, vision or action or can you have both or do you need both or…so many more questions I guess

  • Stephen Lynch

    Movement. It implies progress and improvement. Vision casters without a following or results aren’t really leading.

    Vision is a key component of movement, but leadership is a fruit of movement.

    • @kylereed

      interesting, I like what you had to say that leadership is fruit of movement, but what are you moving towards?

      • Stephen Lynch

        Moving towards your vision. Vision does come before movement, so it makes it equally as important as movement. However, I think movement is a better metric (or fruit) of leadership. Leaders WILL have movement with followers.

  • Graham

    I like this question Kyle. I will of course say it is a combination of both. There have been many times in my career where I’ve given a suggestion only to have it shot down by the “leadership” positions. Just today I was talking to a superior who was telling me how great a recent change went over. I couldn’t help myself but point out that I had made the suggestion to go with that change 4 years ago. I am not exaggerating… literally 4 years ago I had the idea to do what they just did.

    I don’t say this to toot my own horn. I say this to make a point. Having vision is so important. There were others in the organization who had the same vision. But they didn’t act on it. I was not in a position to act on it… they were. Yet it still took 4 years. Too long in my book.

    Bottom line… you gotta have both. :)

    • @kylereed

      interesting. So you had the vision but the movement was not there because of your position.
      That is never fun.

      So is there a way for you to get some movement even if you do not have the chance to push for it? or you are not in the leadership position? I am curious honestly. Because I think a lot of 20 somethings face this exact challenge. 

      • Graham

        “They” say I’m in a leadership position but anytime I try and take liberties with that assumption I get shot down. Churches man… I’ve heard they’re all the same in this way. There are of course a few exceptions to this rule… but the local church is notoriously bad at accepting change in a timely way. It’s unfortunate really.

        • Sarah

          Unfortunate and also not unfortunate.. if I can join the convo way late and add my two cents… It is unfortunate because change, in a lot of cases, is really great and does MOVE things forward.  But very seldom is hasty good-sometimes moving slower is great because it still moves in the right direction, with much less backwards movement that results from moving too forward too quickly…

  • Jason Vana

    I haven’t read the other comments, so this might be a repeat, but I think leadership is a mixture of both. Just because you have a vision or dream, doesn’t mean people will follow it. And just because you’re moving something forward, doesn’t mean people will follow. You need both, because people need both.

    They need a visionary, someone who can see beyond where they can see, dream bigger than they can dream and give them a glimpse of a future with change. But vision isn’t always enough. That’s why we have so many visionaries but not a lot of change. On top of vision, you need to be able to inspire action. Otherwise it’s just a dream that doesn’t turn into anything.

    • @kylereed

      so if you have the vision movement should follow right behind?

      • Jason Vana

        I don’t think movement necessarily happens right behind a vision. Sometimes, people need to see movement before they will follow a vision. At the same time, I don’t think most people are willing to change or start moving if there isn’t a vision of something better. I think each situation is different, depending on the vision, the people it applies to and who is involved in the movement aspect. Sometimes it happens right away, sometimes there needs to be movement before people join in, sometimes they won’t move until they understand the vision.

        I think the two are intimately linked.

  • Jonathan Pearson

    It’s certainly both. Movement often gets left out though. Movement is the action to the vision. Good thoughts here man.

    • @kylereed

      I like that and agree, movement is the response to vision