Lead with Vision

Lead with vision: Wayfinding as inspiration

I am lucky enough to be able to spend a little over a month on the island of Kauai. I am experimenting with working in a different location, in a different time zone, while combining some fun and exploration of the Garden Island. It is my first time on the island, and it is beautiful,green and relaxing – this trip was a great idea! What a gift to be inspired by my new surroundings and learn from the rich history of the Polynesian culture.

On my most recent island adventure, I visited the Allerton Garden, a National Tropical Botanical Garden. It rained most of the visit, which explains why the gardens are so lush, but it kept us in the van. Our tour guide, David, made the most of the time by explaining the historical background of the garden and some fascinating history of Hawaii. I can’t get the story he shared about the Polynesian Voyaging Society out of my mind.

Picture of a waterfall at the Allerton Garden during a brief break in the rain.

In the early 1970s, artist Herb Kane had a mission to build a double-hulled sailing canoe and navigate it from Hawaii to Tahiti. The vision came from a desire to bring back the culture of wayfinding and reunite the people of Polynesia. 600 years had passed since the last such voyage had occurred and the art of traditional navigation was all but lost. To demonstrate it was possible to make the journey without any modern navigational systems, a team, which became the Polynesian Voyaging Society, built a replica canoe and named it the Hokule'a. The traditions were not in practice, so the society had to research ancient texts and art. They put together a crew but needed to look beyond their own culture to find Mau Piailug from Micronesia, who still knew how to navigate using only the ancient art of wayfaring. This project became Hawaii’s bicentennial project and on May 1, 1976, the Hokule’a set sail to Tahiti. The voyage was successful and ignited the imagination and commitment of Hawaiians to revive traditions and expand educational resources, including the Hawaiian language. Visit the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s website to learn more about their incredible story: www.hokulea.com/moananuiakea/

Creating success through vision

The Hawaiian culture is much stronger today, with more people learning the Hawaiian language. This Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance started from the vision of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Hokule’a. As we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month this powerful story reminded me of the powerful influence a well-articulated vision can have on a team. When we lead with vision amazing things happen. The society’s founders were passionate about an important cause that was brought to life with the Hokule’a.This canoe was more than a symbol, it was something real that people could see, get involved with, and then expand on the idea into other cultural revitalization areas important to the Hawaiian people.

As leaders it can be difficult to make a vision concrete. In the Seasons Leadership Program, we talk about the importance of creating a clear vision, and then communicating it in a clear and compelling way that resonates with the team who will ultimately bring the vision to life. The Polynesian Voyaging Society founders could not have completed the project by themselves. Even if they could have, it wouldn’t have had the same impact on the world - influencing so many others. This is what great leaders do – they lead with vision!

Wayfinding is another powerful metaphor that inspires me from their story. Traditional navigation relies on educated intuition and intricate observation. To begin you must know where you are and where you are heading. Along the way, an experienced wayfinder knows when the boat is heading off course or is on track. These are skills learned and honed over generations. It is mind-blowing to me that the Polynesians navigated to islands out in the middle of the Pacific – taking on the risk of an almost 2,500 nautical mile voyage! But they did this expertly with confidence and impressive results. Their example gives us a roadmap for how to truly lead with vision. What stories have inspired you in your travels?

Want more leadership insights? Other inspiring stories of leadership are available on The Almanac:

Seasoned Leader Profile: Taking ownership and giving back.

Learn how to be “Queen of Plan B" like me.

Susan Ireland draws on 30+ years of leadership experience in corporations to help people positively impact the world. As an ICF-Certified Professional Coach, Susan works with executives, entrepreneurs and leaders at all levels to enhance their leadership and business acumen, encourage self-discovery and turn challenges into positive results. Her belief in the unique value of individuals and appreciation for the wonder and awe of their journeys inspires enduring, transformative change. susanireland.coach

Join Our Community

Thank you for joining our community!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Most Recent Posts

See All

Summer Rerun

I wrote about summer last year at this time, and as I reread this almanac entry, I realized it still captures the key points of the season and applies them to leadership – and life. This is because the cyclical nature of the seasons is like a rerun. We may have been through this season before but there is still something new and interesting about it to discover.

Read More

Seeking feedback on your communication will enhance your leadership presence today

Have you ever thought that you did a good job communicating something only to find out later that what you thought you communicated is not what people thought you meant to communicate? You are not alone. Many people think that they communicate clearly and get frustrated when they don’t get the results for which they were hoping.

Read More

Own your leadership journey

What I didn’t realize early in my career was that I could take ownership of my leadership journey – I just needed to know how. Our working definition of leadership at Seasons Leadership is, “the ability to inspire and motivate yourself and others to action.”

Read More


Are you wanting to learn more before you dive in? We created these tools to help support your growth and success. Whether you join our yearlong program or simply use these resources on your own, we're honored to be a part of your ongoing development.

Bad Bosses

While there are definitely bad bosses out there, luckily most bosses want to be good bosses and to do the right things. How would you rate yourself as a boss?


Community & Relationships

When we develop relationships, we build community. To do this intentionally and with purpose results in a conscious community that can nurture each other and “rise” together. That’s why it is important!


Leadership & Principles

Do you know what your values are? Do you have an explicit set of operating principles for your team or organization? If not, it is never too late to get started!


Relationship Matrix

Even if nurturing relationships is easy for you, to successfully network, one helpful practice is to create a “Relationship Matrix.” The matrix is a list of people that you want to build and nurture a relationship in business with.


Goal Setting

Are you the person who intends to accomplish a goal next year but “next year” keeps sliding to … the next year? We have a better way to set you up for success!