Are You the Visionary or the Builder?

In his book, The Hard Thing About the Hard Things, Ben Horowitz reminds us that there are two types of leaders. He calls them, appropriately, Ones and Twos. We might call them the Visionary and the Builder. Neither is better. All organizations need both types.

The Visionary focuses on the big picture, the strategy, and the key decisions. They bring broad awareness, connections amongst disparate facts, factors, and sectors, curiosity, drive, and clarity of direction. Their blind spots include micromanaging, fire fighting, and BSO (Bright Shiny Object) Syndrome. Companies with too much Visionary leadership end up unable to get traction, repeating mistakes, and struggling to make profits consistently.

The Builder focuses on people, systems, capacity, and sustainability. They bring concerted action, structure, rhythm, awareness of what’s broken or incomplete, delegation, and accountability. Their blind spots include analysis paralysis, incremental (versus wholesale) improvements,  and inflexibility. Companies with too much Builder leadership end up behind the times, outmaneuvered, and stale.

We are predominately either the Visionary or the Builder. Unless we balance our type with the qualities of the other type, we will hobble our organizations. We can strike that balance by developing ourselves and/or by hiring leaders of the other type.


In your corner,


PS: Read Ben’s original blog post about Ones and Twos.


Today’s photo credit: Jamie McCaffrey cc

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