The Three D's of Visionary Leadership

What Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have in common.

Visionary CEO

In my opinion, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have three things in common: They all follow the three D's of visionary leadership:

1. Define reality.

2. Declare intention.

3. Decide strategy.

Here's what you need to know to follow this formula for visionary leadership.

Define Reality

By defining reality, leaders can look into the future and see not only what the world is likely to want before others can see it, but also a future that, once it is defined, will cause the world to think, "I have to have it." And when the world thinks that, you don't have to sell them; you just take orders. That's something you see happening at any Apple store or Tesla dealership.

Jobs, Musk and Bezos see the unknown as an adventure to be lived. By contrast, non-visionary, ROI-inhibited types often see the unknown as a danger to be avoided. What enables visionaries to see the world this way is the confidence that if they step into the unknown, the future — as in something the world doesn't yet know it wants or needs — will reveal itself to them. And when that future reveals itself, visionaries see it clearly and bond to it.

Steve Jobs defined reality by realizing that technology and computers weren't a fad and that in the future, everyone would want a personal computer. He knew that they would be part of daily life and daily work for most people.

Elon Musk realized that electricity and batteries were advancing at an exponential rate and that if cars could run on them, we could clean up the world.

Jeff Bezos saw that people were enjoying spending time — and eventually money — online and set out to turn that into a shopping experience capable of delivering near-instant gratification.

Declare Intention

It was the Declaration of Independence, not the Explanation of Independence. Once Jobs, Musk and Bezos "declared" their intention to achieve the reality they defined, they used their singular focus to pull in everything they needed to make it happen and push out of the way anything that obstructed it.

Decide Strategy

After they defined reality and declared their intention to make it so, the next step was to decide on a strategy to make it happen. And they knew intuitively what was necessary to begin that strategy:

1. The "whoa" factor: They knew that when they could imagine products that caused people to think, "Whoa! I can't believe what I'm seeing," they could inspire people to form a line to buy the new product or put themselves on a wait list or click "add to cart."

2. Attract, engage and retain the best and most talented people. When you create something that is like a rocket ship into the future, you create something that people want to tell their grandchildren they were a part of. That's how you attract the very best.

3. They knew they needed something that would make money long enough to survive and then grow and thrive. Even ROI investors find it hard to resist investing in a company that "whoas" its customers and turns them into fanatics.

There are, of course, a number of additional components to a strategy that works, but with those three components as the driving engine, you're well on your way to creating your defined reality.

Think of your market. What is a future reality that you can envision that others can't see or even conceive of yet? If you keep thinking of that future reality — and your tendency to chase shiny objects doesn't pull you off course — you might be willing to declare your intention to make it so. Then you can wrap it all into a strategy so that you can attract the very best to your grand vision.

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.
What's this?
Content labeled as the Expert Forum is produced and managed by Newsweek Expert Forum, a fee based, invitation only membership community. The opinions expressed in this content do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Newsweek or the Newsweek Expert Forum.