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Emmanuel S. William

Visionary Leadership: A Panacea For Bad Governance


  1. Introduction
  2. Causes of Bad Governance
  3. Effects of Bad Governance
  4. Solution to Bad Governance – Visionary Leadership
  5. Examples and Effects of Visionary Leadership
  6. Conclusion

Visionary leadership is the building of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness, presenting a challenge that calls forth the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. Visionary leadership works with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose, with eyes on the horizon, not just on the near at hand.

Visionary leaders are social innovators and change agents, seeing the big picture and thinking strategically. When visionary leadership is in effect, there is a profound interconnectedness between the leader and the whole, and true visionary leaders serve the good of the whole. They recognize that there is some truth on both sides of most polarized issues in our society today. They search for solutions that transcend the usual adversarial approaches and address the causal level of problems. They find a higher synthesis of the best of both sides of an issue and address the systemic root causes of problems to create real breakthroughs. I would say visionary leadership always centers on people, not projects, programs, properties, or profits, when Martin Luther King, Jnr Said “… I have a dream” it was about people not programs. Projects, programs, properties, or profits are about goals and goals express vision. But vision itself is always about people not deliverables.

Emmanuel S. William

For us to appreciate Visionary Leadership, we should probably digress to first have a general understanding of “BAD GOVERNANCE”, what we describe as bad governance, its causes and effects. This would lead us to a solution which we find in Visionary Leadership, we shall also explore examples of visionary leadership, its effects on societies and how we may practice a form of homemade visionary.


Bad governance is the inability of a of a public institution to manage public society while making the best use of all resources at their disposal. It is mostly associated with corruption, distortion of government budgets, inequitable growth, social exclusion, lack of trust in authorities. It is   mostly characterized by the absence of participation and consensus orientation.


This means that, whenever the government formulate policies, citizens do not participate and reach the level of agreement to what best suites them. In short the state or government makes decisions without the knowledge of the people. In bad governance, there is no transparency and accountability, this means that the decisions that the government makes are not according to the rules and regulations because government institutions as well as private sector and others are not answerable to the people.


In this kind of governance, leaders or those in power are at liberty of doing whatever they want because no one is going to question them. In addition, citizens are denied access to the information of government agenda and this can lead to massive corruption.

Bad governance has no place for rule of law, which means that there is no legal frame work to support fair justice, so when leaders or those in power do something wrong, there are not brought to justice, also in bad governance there is no respect for human rights but instead there is violation of human rights and in particularly those of the venerable in society.

It is important to note that in bad governance, the three organs of the government do not work independently because there is no separation of powers and this is characterized by high levels of corruption and dishonesty, leading to rampant conflicts, internal unrests and even civil wars.

In bad governance, responsiveness, equity and inclusiveness, effective and efficiency are absent. This means that the government does not provide services such as health care, education and so on. This forces members of the society to feel like they are excluded from the mainstream leadership vision. In addition, the venerable are not considered as part of the mainstream and the state uses resources for the benefit of few individuals or groups and there is no sustainable use of natural resources and/or protection of the environment.

Bad governance ensures cooperation by aggression, violence, deception, or cheating against peaceful people.

Furthermore with bad governance, there is little or no openness in government business and most people regard the public service as not transparent and accountable

I have tried to have 6 concise descriptions of the qualities of visionary leaders:

1.They Optimistic about the future.

2.They are focused on the best in their people. I expect our leaders to be focused on the unique strengths of every constituent of Nigeria.

3.They are never satisfied with a level of achievement; they may be happy where they are but refuse to stay there.

4.They are enveloped in constant research on how to make tomorrow better than today.

5.They accept change, new ideas and new ways of doing things.

They are Inclusive, not exclusive; they invite others into their vision.

Let’s note that Vision requires looking into the future, while making concrete plans today, so vision feels like hope.

Hope creates and energizes vision. Separated from hope, vision is futility. In the case of Nigeria, every major index that guarantees a transfer of leadership and growth unto the next generation is comatose, owing to bad governance, so the young people are hopelessly hoping, the leaders in their hearts are also hopeless because they know what they have done to the society and the great system that produced them, so the best they can do is to continue recycling themselves until none of their ilk is available, or grabbing what they can from the resources at their disposal or at worst foisting a stooge, in a nutshell; Leaders without hope are lost, along with everyone who follows them.

How do we identify visionary leaders? A visionary leader dreams wonderful visions of the future and articulate them with great inspiration. A visionary leader is good with words and actions and so they can bring their vision into being in the world, thus transforming it in some way. More than words are needed for a vision to take form. In today’s world, it requires leadership and heartfelt commitment. A visionary leader is effective in manifesting his or her vision because he/she creates specific, achievable goals, initiates action, and enlists the participation of others.

Visionary leadership is based on a balanced expression of the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical dimensions.  It requires core values, clear vision, empowering relationships, and innovative action.  When one or more of these dimensions are missing, leadership cannot manifest a vision.


I have intentionally avoided naming visionary leaders, I have instead focused more on describing them so you can digest my opinion and make a list for yourself and possibly mention your own names in that wonderful list, let us take a look at the visionary leaders in the business world especially outside Nigeria with worldwide impact, so I can clear any doubts or undertones you may have as regards my opinion today.

Henry Ford who became famous for pioneering the assembly line and in the process, becoming the first man to successfully mass produce automobiles. Amazingly, Ford jump started the Ford Motor company with virtually none of his own money, ford raised a nominal sum of money from friends for initial working capital purposes. He then proceeded to cleverly negotiate deals with his suppliers that let him purchase parts on credit. This in turn motivated him to sell his cars quickly – at a profit – so as to repay his suppliers. After years of diligently reinvesting those profits back into the business, Ford Motors is an industrial giant – and its creator is forever immortalized as a Visionary Leader and business legend.

There are others like John Rockefeller for oil and gas, Andrew Carnegie for Steel, Thomas Edison & Nikola Tesla for Electricity, Warren Buffet for Capitalist investments, Sam Walton of WALMART, Oprah Winfrey of the Oprah Winfrey show which is the highest-rated talk show in TV history, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, William Hewlett and David Packard both gave birth to the Popular HP brand of computers, Malala Yousafzai famous campaigner for education rights from age 16, Bill Clinton former president of the USA, Emmanuel Macron 39yr old president of France, Nelson Mandela the freedom fighter and I guess almost everyone here has heard the name Mark Zukerberg of…?

Visionary leaders are successful at manifesting their visions, based on their leadership on an inspirational and positive picture of the future, as well as a clear sense of direction as to how to get there. Vision is a field that brings energy into form.

They broadcast a coherent message by themselves to embody their vision, they keep communicating the vision to create a strong field which then brings their vision into physical reality.  Nelson Mandela clearly held a positive vision of a racially harmonious South Africa during his 28 years in jail and helped bring it into reality peacefully-to the amazement of the world. Visionary leaders move energy to a higher level by offering a clear vision of what is possible. They inspire people to be better than they already are. Visionary leaders transmit energy to people, giving them a new sense of hope and confidence.

About the Writer

Emmanuel S. William

Is a youth policy expert, writer, a motivational speaker and also the president, ECOWAS Youth Council.


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