Visionaries and Integrators™ and the Balance That Sends Your Business Soaring

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Small business owners and leaders don’t have the bandwidth to address all the demands on them. They quickly exceed their bandwidth dealing with challenges with customer orders, new product ideas that could solve problems and increase the bottom line, and everything in between. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get to everything.

One important step towards a solution is understanding how you’re wired from a business leadership perspective. According to Gino Wickman, creator of the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®), there are two distinct types of business leaders: Visionaries and Integrators. Which are you? If you don’t know where you fall on that continuum, it will frustrate you and trip you up as you try to get your business off the ground so you can grow and scale. You’ll either be constantly recreating the wheel or unable to conceptualize how you need to modify your initial offering to meet the needs of an always-changing customer base.

Understanding Visionaries and Integrators

A Visionary is somebody who's a pioneer, helping reimagine how we live and work. They tend to be a disruptor in that way and their disruption brings new ideas into the world. They're very intuitive, team-focused, risk-tolerant, and persistent. Visionaries have an intense focus on the vision of a business and bringing it to reality.

Integrators, on the opposite side of the continuum, focus on execution. They align the strategy with daily operations and keep the company accountable. They translate the vision into processes and systems to make it happen on the ground. Integrators are more focused on logic and concepts.

Visionaries and Integrators bring different, but equally valuable gifts to the table. A business needs both the vision and the action to be successful. You rarely find that in one person. In fact, a Harvard Business Review survey found that only 8 percent of leaders excelled at both strategy and execution. Most of us are good at one or the other, and when you try to be both, it’s exhausting and ineffective.

It’s really a sustainability issue. When you understand how you’re wired and the strengths and weaknesses you bring to your business, you’ll see the value in finding the people and resources to balance you out. There’s no reason to get burned out trying to do it all—the other side exists! The question is how are you going to tap into that?

Working Together

I’ve experienced both the roadblocks that can come out of Visionaries and Integrators clashing and the success that can blossom from their collaboration. Unfortunately, one of the missed opportunities is a very personal story that was a painful learning experience. My dad was a farmer and he was passionate about people understanding where their food comes from and how it’s grown. When he passed away, I came across a story about a rural church that partnered with a city church to provide fresh produce and opportunities for youth to experience life on the farm. Since we grew up in a rural church in a small town, I immediately saw the opportunity for a meaningful tribute to my dad. I suggested to my mom that we start up this type of ministry with my family’s church where I grew up and connect them to a church in the city, only a half hour away. Sadly, she couldn’t see the vision as I could. I no longer lived in the area so I couldn’t be the one to execute it. She was an Integrator, a bookkeeper by training, and she assumed it would fail without somebody there to communicate the vision to people who would capture it and make it real. Even though I had specific people in mind who I knew would make it a success, she shut it down.

Fortunately, I’ve had a much more positive experience with Jeff Heyer-Jones, president of SparkEvolve and my Inflection Point Moment cohost. We are like puzzle pieces that fit together. I'm into innovation and new ideas, and he's into processes and systems and making them happen in the real world. The vision for the Inflection Point Hub started with a mind map. I drew the whole thing out on flip chart paper and shared a picture with Jeff. He’s good-hearted and believes in my ideas, so we got together and I walked him through it. He needed numbers, which I got to him. Once he put together a pro forma, he was all in. It was more than seeing the vision, he could see that we could make it happen with the right processes and systems in place. That’s one of the beauties of our Inflection Point Moments. When Jeff and I are connecting on the live streams and podcasts, our audience is hearing both the Visionary and the Integrator sides of the leadership model.

Unlocking the Magic

Once you work through the friction between the two leadership styles, it’s magical. Success is multiplied by the combination of vision plus action, not just any action, but systemic actions. With these three steps, you can take your business to new heights.

  1. Identify whether you are a Visionary or an Integrator. You may not clearly be one or the other. There are plenty of resources out there to help you figure out where you fall on the continuum. Two books I would recommend are Traction, written by Gino Wickman, and Rocket Fuel, written by Gino Wickman and Mark Winters.
  2. Align your role. Once you know if you’re more action or vision-oriented, make sure what you’re doing in your organization lines up with your strengths.
  3. Find your compliment. In order to reach your potential and run a sustainable business, you need to find your opposite. If you’re an Integrator, find a Visionary. If you’re a Visionary, find an Integrator. Working with your opposite allows you to stay in your natural role while enjoying the benefits of both intuitive and systems-focused leadership.

Return on energy is anchored in knowing who you are and what energizes you. You are continually motivated when you’re working in your energizers and you’ll see the results, whether they are financial, emotional, or relational. When you’re a Visionary doing the Visionary work or an Integrator doing the Integrator work, you’ll sing and your company will soar. Take the first step today with the Crystallizer Assessment® to see if your leadership abilities align closer as a Visionary or Integrator. Then let me know what you find out!

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