Visionary leadership is considered critical to change because it sets the strategic direction, and it tells a story about why it's worth pursuing and inspires people to embrace the change. But, visionary leadership is a double-edged sword and breaks down when middle and top managers aren’t aligned on the strategic vision.

Visionary leadership is not just crucial for senior managers; it also matters for middle and lower level managers, who play an essential role in carrying out strategic change; their ability to inspire their teams and create strategic alignment is a core element in successful strategy execution.

When middle managers are aligned with top management, things play out as the widespread view of visionary leadership would suggest. For managers that are misaligned with the company strategy; however, the dark side of visionary leadership becomes evident. The more these misaligned managers display visionary leadership, the less strategic alignment and commitment among their teams.

To ensure that everyone is aligned, start with creating strategic alignment among middle managers before strategy execution efforts begin.

Inspired by: Harvard Business Review - Why Visionary Leadership Fails, by Nufer Yasin Ates, Murat Tarakci, Jeanine P. Porck, Daan van Knippenberg, and Patrick Groenen