We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
In his book Rules of Thumb, Alan M. Webber writes about the differences between talkers and doers. It is a special relationship in organizational structures between those who talk up great ideas and those who make them happen.
Webber states, “In your company, who gets listened to when it comes to assessing an idea or evaluating a project? If your company is like most, good talkers get taken more seriously than real doers. The people in the field who are closest to the problem and closest to the customer may be useful when it comes to do what our experts have advised.” Herein lies the primary challenge to the discerning leader. How do you take the best and brightest ideas from the talkers and mesh them with the executioners of the vision; the doers? Sound familiar?
Let’s face the fact. Companies need visionaries as well as executioners of the vision. Every organization is dependant upon both for survival. Unfortunately, the marriage between the two can be rocky because each uses a different side of the brain in the process.
In keeping with a marriage metaphor, Dave Meurer said, “A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.” When a leader understands his dependence upon dreamers and doers and creates interdependence between the two, great things can happen for the company. Here are a few simple tips for doers and dreamers and how working together can be a game changer within your company.
Dreamers must defer the details to the doers. It is important to understand the powerful influence of dreamers. T.E. Lawrence said, “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.”
Think of where your company might be today were it not for the dreamers; those who see the big picture long before others and point the way. Dreamers are invaluable in terms of their creative genius to move the company in the right direction. Yet, when it comes to the execution of the plan, dreamers must give way to the doers.
By deferring to the doers, dreamers are in essence passing the baton as in a race to the ones that can carry the team across the finish line to victory. When dreamers understand that doers can take the vision to completion it no longer becomes a territorial issue but one of what is best for the team. For the dreamer it is not about sole possession of the idea, it is about learning to share; to see the dream come to fruition.
Doers must trust the dreamer. In some ways, doers are natural skeptics of dreamers. Again, both work and live on different sides of the brain, and therefore do not always understand one another. When the doer learns that the dreamer is just as vested in the company as he is, progress can be made.
Trust between a doer and a dreamer is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Dreamers already know what the picture looks like, but it is up to the doers to put it together. Doers have to trust that the dreamers have the right picture or vision for where the company is supposed to go before they put the pieces together.
Doers and dreamers must be team players. Trust is nurtured when leadership builds bridges between doers and dreamers. I know how difficult it can be when two allies can’t come together but should because each is playing by their own rules. Frustration sets in and progress is stymied.
Webber adds. “But don’t forget: you’ve got plenty of street-smart frontline people in your own organization, men and women who are close to the customer and have deep working knowledge about what works and doesn’t in your company. How do you get access to their kind of knowing, the kind that comes from actual doing?” This is exactly what you as a leader must figure out.
When doers and dreamers work together; setting aside pride and ego, great things are bound to happen. When you unleash the power of a dream with the ingenuity of doers, your organization is bound to flourish.
© 2010 Doug Dickerson