3DLife™ Leadership Series: Leading in 3D – Part I

Leading with Vision

As much as our society likes to celebrate, gush, and drool over those who have seemingly achieved overnight success, becoming and being a great leader does not happen overnight. There are many skills and qualities one must possess and learn over time to help them reach this status. And yes, they can be learned! 

Today’s blog is the first of a five-part 3DLife™ Leadership Series: Leading in 3D that will focus on some of the fundamental aspects of becoming and being an aware, authentic 3D leader in the 21st century. 

Getting Started

To begin, the first key 3DLife™ leadership concept is VISION. While there are visionary skills and qualities a leader can naturally possess, many of them have been honed over time, through life experiences, to create an effective, inspiring personal and organizational vision that attracts and moves people into action.

Of course, many inspiring leaders have a back story – we all do – and often, their stories tell of hardship, hard work, multiple failures, years (sometimes decades) of closed doors before they finally have that breakthrough moment that puts them suddenly in the public eye, and thus, an “overnight success”. These stories are often the foundation for their VISION – what they want to see happen in the world, in their company, and in their life – and that it was their why driving the vision that kept their belief, courage, and determination intact all along. 

The People Around You

Jim Collins, the author of the book, Good to Great (2001), talks about how he and his team discovered through massive amounts of research, doing comparison studies, and many heated debates that although “his” great leaders had vision, they first made sure the right people were in place around them. Then, they collaborated on a vision for the company together.

But, we also know of leaders who seem to draw people to them “organically” because they are effective, expressive communicators, and thus, have inspired those around them with their story and their vision for what the company, organization, cause, or business could be. In doing so, they fuel the desire in others to hop on board to help make the vision happen.

Regardless of your leadership style, vision moves leaders (and those around them) forward to produce and sustain the results they desire to achieve. 

Let the Ideas Flow

Additionally, getting others behind your vision requires the inclusion of strategic, directed, and thoughtful details – your vision must be a catalyst for invoking reflection and action in others. There are many things to consider, but these are skills and qualities which inspiring leaders demonstrate.

To create a vision that inspires those around you to take action, you must be willing to let your creativity flow, be open-minded, and allow yourself to dream big without permitting the “how” to stop you from envisioning what you want to accomplish. The “how” will come – but first you have to be able to construct a detailed vision using your five senses, as well as FEEL what you ultimately desire for yourself as a leader, for the organization, and the people for which you are responsible. 

The 3DLife™ Leadership Vision

Technically, there are two parts to the 3DLife™ leadership vision – the vision of yourself as a leader and the vision for “the whole” around you.  

When you start thinking of your leadership role, consider:

Who is your ideal self?

How do you want to show up in the world for those around you, and for yourself?

What do you want to achieve?

What kind of leader do you want to be?

Now, there is a bit of caution here because another “quality” a great leader possesses is actually one to not possess – and that’s ego. Ego cannot be part of the equation if you are looking to be the best leader you can possibly be. Allowing your ego to come into play will too often lead your vision astray, and ultimately, sabotage the results you’re looking for.

Remember, your leader’s vision also includes the big dream for the organization or the cause you are leading. Consider the following:

What do you want for the business/company/organization and the people it employs and serves?

What is your big dream for it?

What do you want it to be the best at?

What do you want your competition and clients to say about it?

What does it look like, sound like, and feel like when it is achieved?

Dream Big and Keep It Real

To inspire others with your vision, you must be able to communicate your ideas clearly and effectively to the right people on your team and your stakeholders. A word of caution here – the “right people” does not mean the people surrounding you consistently agree with you. Having only “yes” people on your team will be detrimental to the vision. Accomplishing anything sustainable or meaningful is unlikely; it will not help move your vision forward to long-term success.

Of course, in creating your vision, you need to be conscious that there will be barriers and obstacles along the way. If you do not account for this, your vision will go awry as soon as the first bump in the road comes along. You must have the ability to be realistic within your dream and to do the work to discover the motivation for desiring it in the first place. That doesn’t mean you need to doubt and second-guess every want and desire you include in your vision. It does mean, though, you need to be confident enough to differentiate between whether your company has the resources, tools, know-how, finances, technology and overall wherewithal to go to the moon (or not), for example. And if it does not, but that is your vision – then you and your team (in shared-vision fashion) must work diligently on the nuts and bolts of making it happen regardless. 

Define Your Why

The next piece of your vision creation is paramount – you must have a clear WHY for it all. If you believe you are going to become a GREAT leader because you’re driven to become gazillionaire – think again. Your why will come from:

  • Establishing a crystal-clear vision
  • Identifying your core values and beliefs
  • Differentiating between interests, passions and curiosities
  • Acknowledging your life experiences
  • Being honest about your internal and external motivations

Do you have a clear picture and understanding of all these to constitute a clear and meaningful why for you?

Keep It Simple

Finally, while there are many bits and pieces that go into creating an inspiring leadership vision, here is one more for you: Be able to state your vision using a short, simple phrase for others to clearly understand what it is you’re after, and why they should so actively jump on board with you. 

Short, to the point, and simple.

Here are a few visionary leaders and their “raisons d’être” for you to consider:

Nelson Mandela envisioned a South Africa in which “all its citizens had equal rights and where every adult would have the right to vote for the government of his or her choice.”

Malala Yousufzai’s vision is “for every girl to be educated.”

Martin Luther King Jr. believed that “all men are created equal and should enjoy the same rights and privileges,” and he “hoped his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.”

Elon Musk’s Tesla mission statement is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” and to “perfect the building of the machine that builds the machine.”

Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s Microsoft vision included “a computer on every desk and in every home.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is moved to “help every person get the chance to live a healthy, productive life.”

The Big Picture

To summarize, the following are some of the key skills and qualities an authentic, aware 3DLife™ visionary leader possesses and works toward:

  • Creativity
  • Open-mindedness
  • Awareness
  • Belief
  • Confidence
  • Determination
  • Effective, expressive communication
  • The right people on the team
  • Realistic, but dreams BIG
  • Strategic, directed, thoughtful
  • A clear why
  • A short, to-the-point, simple vision statement

First and foremost, becoming and being a “Lead in 3D” leader requires the ability to create a VISION that inspires and moves you and your team into action. The prize for doing so? The generation of inspired, positive energy and forward momentum in your leadership practice and in your organization that may be what you need to begin the breakthrough toward greatness.


In the next entry of the 3DLife™ Leadership Series: Leading in 3D, I’ll be talking more about the people you have around you and how your relationship with them is paramount to your vision’s success. 

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Until next time…

Take Care & Keep It Simple,


Michelle Hurlburt is a Life & Executive Coach, as well as a Social and Emotional Learning Coach & Trainer. She holds B.Ed. and M.Ed. in Leadership degrees and has been certified by the Certified Coaches Federation as a Coach Practitioner, Group Coach Practitioner, and Certified Master Coach Practitioner. Michelle has been a tenant with Ignite Labs since November 2019.

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