Doctoral Thesis Demystifying Visionary Leadership: In search of the essence of effective vision communication

Defended on Thursday, 13 June 2013


Vision communication has been heralded as the most defining aspect of outstanding leadership, yet what makes for effective vision communication has eluded leadership scholars so far. Indeed, while vision communication is the only leader behavior that is specified in all influential leadership theories, it remains unclear which elements of leader vision and how these elements are conducive to the mobilization of followers toward action. Accordingly, the goal of the current dissertation was to clarify part of the mystery surrounding these issues.

In this dissertation I highlight two ways by which vision communication can provide followers with a viable basis for action and motivation. The first way involves the use of emotional displays by leaders during vision communication. Specifically, I show that leader emotional displays provide useful for leaders by impacting the motivational lens through which followers interpret and respond to the leader’s vision. The second way involves the assurance of collective continuity. Specifically, I show that leaders can effectively motivate followers to help realizing intended change by communicating a vision which assures them that – despite objective change – the most defining features of the collective will remain unchanged. This dissertation concludes by reflecting on these results from the view that regards leadership as the management of meaning.


leadership; vision; visionary leadership; vision communication; emotion; regulatory focus; values; goals; charisma; inspirational leadership; organizational behavior, psychology

Time frame

2009 - 2012

Preferred reference

M. Venus, Demystifying Visionary Leadership: In search of the essence of effective vision communication, Promotor:prof.dr. Daan Van Knippenberg,


Merlijn Venus
Merlijn Venus

Supervisory Team

Daan Van Knippenberg
Professor of Organizational Behavior
  • Promotor
Daan Stam
Associate Professor of Innovation Management
  • Copromotor
  • Daily Supervisor

Committee Members

Dirk van Dierendonck
Professor of Human Resource Management
Steffen Giessner
Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Change
Russell Johnson
Russell Johnson