The key to truly successful teams of any kind is a foundation of strong leadership. Often times in business that leadership begins with a visionary leader. However, as the business grows, a visionary, left unchecked by its balanced complement, the integrator, lacks the ability to manage the details needed to align the big picture with daily operations. Thus the visionary-integrator relationship is one of the most valuable relationships to build on a leadership team.
Here’s what you need to know about these styles, how they work, and how visionaries and integrators can become the dynamic duo they are meant to be.
Integrators and Visionaries
Visionaries tend to decide what the target is, integrators figure out how to hit it. One knows there is buried treasure, the other finds the map to it, together, they follow the path to their reward. Without the visionary, the integrator would have no idea there was a treasure to find; similarly, the visionary wouldn’t know how to find it without the integrator. The two are instrumental to the success of the whole, so it’s important that they see the value the other brings.
With business, there is no treasure map where X marks the spot (though I wish it were that simple). Instead, it’s up to the visionary and integrators to create that map together. The visionary keeps the mission and vision at the forefront during planning, and the integrator uses goals and milestones to plan what actions are needed to bring that vision to life.
Visionaries are usually company founders recognized for their creativity, broad networks, clear vision, innovative problem solving, and ability to close big deals. They are, by nature, expansionists, and naturally come up with new ideas to expand and develop the business and culture.
On the other side, they can cause confusion and inefficiency, have little patience for details, desire to act on all of their thoughts right away, and can get distracted by all the shiny pennies, losing focus when new, exciting possibilities emerge.
Integrators are the glue that holds together every aspect of a business. They’re great at execution, holding people accountable for their actions and words–and never forgetting to celebrate success! The integrator’s relentless drive towards efficiency leads them through projects with clear objectives while simplifying all operations in order to bring out the best possible results.
The main drawback is that integrators are realists who can put a dent in new ideas by offering some harsh truth. They may appear to be pessimists, having to say no more frequently to stay on track.
Having a solid foundation to build upon will set everyone up for long-term success in discovering that buried treasure, whatever that may mean for the company. So the question becomes, how do you set yourself up with a strong foundation?
Building a foundation for the Visionary/Integrator Duo
Friction comes with the territory
The differences between the psychology and communication styles of the visionary/integrator duo mean there will always be some healthy tension between the pair. If that tension is lacking, it is likely the result of one of the pair capitulating to the demands of the other on a regular basis, which is generally a recipe for disaster. In the V/I pair, the greater the contrast in abilities, the greater the potential for a truly dynamic duo.
That said, there is a fine line between healthy and toxic tension. It requires dedication and discipline to maintain respect, communication, and remain a united front.
Communication between visionaries and integrators can be trying at times, if only because their brains process information differently than the other. A disciplined commitment to intentional, regularly scheduled communication is required. Keep in mind these three principles when communicating is crucial – be clear, be collaborative, and be kind.
Know what you want to say, and be prepared to extrapolate your why. The visionary and integrator brains work differently, which is exactly why the duo is so successful.
Meet the other person at their interest level and guide them to yours. If the other person is a big picture visionary, be sure to detail how the intricacies of your development plan support the creation of the whole. If the other party is detail-oriented, list the individual impacts your vision can have in multiple sectors; the more information, the better.
You are actively creating something with another person. It’s only going to succeed if both parties are heard. Remember, creation isn’t about compromising. It’s about collaborating. How can you work together to create the best version of this project?
Create a space for feedback and allow all parties to share their thoughts on the topic even if it isn’t their specialty. Different perspectives help create a more inclusive answer.
Share responsibility AND wins. As discussed, this is a collaborative venture. Using we instead of you or I is a subtle shift in your language that can provide a substantial shift in communication.
“You don’t get it.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We aren’t communicating effectively.”
Two of these statements place the responsibility of communication on a single person, whereas the third shares responsibility. Utilizing “we” will solidify in everyone’s subconscious that this is a group effort, no single person can carry the weight of failure or success.
Of course, there are plenty of times when one person completed a task, or an individual was instrumental in its success, and they should be acknowledged for those wins! But goals aren’t met by a single person, and mistakes aren’t typically one-sided.
Now that you’re communicating effectively, how do you keep the momentum going forward?
Create a structure for your meetings.
Meetings should be divided into three sections: completed tasks, new ideas, and action items.
First, revisit any work assignments set from your previous meeting and make sure everything is being developed in a way that aligns with the overall vision.
This usually goes smoothly if the initial vision has clear intentions set. If not, you’ll find yourself dwelling on this portion of the meeting more than necessary. If that’s the case, it might be beneficial to sit down and delve deep into intention setting for your company.
Discuss any new ideas you’ve thought of during your work between meetings and decide if it’s worth pursuing later and where that may fall in your timeline.
During development and implementation, you’ll probably find yourself faced with challenges or opportunities you weren’t expecting. This can open many paths that you hadn’t considered and it’s essential to keep all parties aware in case someone sees an opportunity worth taking the other might miss.
Assess and assign the next tasks to be delivered and set another meeting
Leave a meeting where both parties have an equally balanced to-do list. Don’t think that the integrators are the only ones with a task list at this point. Visionaries are responsible for communicating their vision to as many parties as possible to create a market of interest and to find investors. While they may need some assistance in how to optimize their reach, they’re ultimately still the ones to do that work.
Plan the topic of your next meeting. Know when you’re meeting again and what you’ll be covering. It’s going to feel tedious at times, but setting concrete expectations and sticking to your timeline is going to keep productivity flowing.
When the visionary and integrator are a united front, committed to open, trusting conversation, and working together to maximize each other’s strengths and minimize the weaknesses, they create an unstoppable force of growth and success. While it takes discipline and commitment, the effort required to form this dynamic duo is worth it.