Company Leadership: Visionary versus Organizer

There are many leadership hats, but the widest division (that’s most apparent in a medium-sized SMB) comes between two types.

The Visionary is all about the Why. The Organizer is all about the How.

Filling in the Gaps

In a small but growing enterprise, if you tend toward one or the other, you must find your trusty sidekick Executive Assistant to fill in those gaps. It’s a little harder for an Organizer to find a Visionary assistant than the other way around, but it can be done. Organizations fall down and die if they don’t have someone behind the scenes, putting all of those small, seemingly insignificant details together. Alternatively, if you don’t have an overarching reason to sift through priorities versus some-day ideas, then there really is no way to figure out how to reach your goals.

Both types are goal-oriented. They just have quite different approaches in reaching the end.

  • The Visionary focuses on the very long-term, Take Over the World ideas that will reach people and shake things up, or reach people and bring them together.
  • The Organizer believes that what the world needs now are systems, sweet systems, without which everything falls apart – including pretty little dreams about taking over the world. No, the world must be managed to be any good.

They are both right, and will drive their assistants crazy, unless they have hired someone exactly like them who speaks the same language. This will work for about 6 months, until either there is a crisis of disorganization in which everything is falling apart behind the scenes, or a crisis of vision because everyone’s getting lots done but they don’t know why.

The Voice of Experience

Both types, the Visionary and the Organizer, can point to their experiences to show that their method is the time-honored, well-tested approach that WORKS. Their audience hangs onto their words, either because it resonates or because the audience is looking for something different to fill in their own gaps. Since opposites attract, a large part of the Visionary’s audience will often be Organizers who want to break out of their mental silos, whereas the Organizer may be speaking to an audience of Visionaries who are tired of constant turnover because their Organizers get frustrated and leave.

As a Visionary with some real-life Organizational skills (time-tested over 12 years in office administration), I have seen that business owners often do not understand how their own style is both their best friend and their worst enemy. On a Debbie Allen interview called “Talking with Giants”, Debbie explains that people are so close to what they see, “we see our own stuff last.” That’s why business coaches are so necessary, because they often point out the most obvious thing about the person that they really don’t see.

Beyond Positioning and Personality

Have you ever gotten tired of the phrase “Every business owner should be [fill-in-the-blank activity]”? It’s probably due to one of five reasons:

  1. You already know that you should be doing it. You just don’t want to.
  2. You don’t see the value in anyone doing it, or how it actually relates to your specific business.
  3. If everyone else is doing it, and you like to stand out from the crowd, it doesn’t seem like throwing your hat into the same ring will produce stand-out-from-the-crowd results.
  4. You really, really hate change. (Accountants, engineers, other systematically-driven people, don’t feel the need to raise your hand. You know who you are.)
  5. It sounds like yet another gimmick so that some half-baked business coach with 20 years of dubious business experience can sell their video series, ebooks, or other marketing material.

The reality is that business owners have to do what is necessary to make the business profitable. That’s really it.

  • Brick-and-mortar owners have to do what’s necessary to bring feet through your doors or eyeballs to your tables: bigger signs, sign-spinning contractors, wine-and-cheese events, free Kids Night, bouncy house on weekends, etc. Alternatively you must somehow make enough on weekends and sales from your warehouses full of marked-down items to counteract the lack of foot-driven or truck-driven sales.
  • Online business owners have to constantly place your ideas or wares on display via the almighty Internet, so that means a few of these content marketing offerings: regular social media posts, personally written/edited blogs, website content refreshing, webinars, etc.

How to Move Beyond Your Personality

It’s really true that small businesses tend to attract the personality of the top two people in the business (partners or owner + Executive Assistant). To get into growth mode, your business has to attract people who are quite different from you.

  • Get a business coach – or three. See “When You Don’t Have Time for Marketing” by the Profitable Firm.)
  • Go to seminars/webinars/read books based on the opposite personality from you, to get inside the head of that other type.
  • Intentionally start conversations with your opposites. (Conversations count if they last more than 2 minutes, and the other person talks more than 10 seconds.)
  • Ask your spouse or best friend for tips. They will probably see some gaps that can be filled.

If you know of other ways to move beyond your personality, please add some comments!

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