Why All Business Visionaries Need A Pragmatist
I believe that all businesses need a strong vision in order to succeed. Vision isn’t just about the initial spark of an idea – it’s about the long-term dream that helps you establish what your business is, who it is for and how it will act.
Vision is created by visionaries at the heart of a business. In my Scaling Success Ecosystem, I talk about how the relationship between a Visionary and a Pragmatist sits at the heart of a successful company. If you’re a business owner reading this article, I would guess that you’re more of a Visionary than a Pragmatist.
That’s not me throwing shade – there’s no inherent value in being one or the other. It’s just that in my experience, Founders are often Visionaries, the type of people who have big ideas and lofty goals – giving shape to the business by thinking up what it will be and where it will go.
Whilst a Visionary generates tons of ideas, the Pragmatist can often foresee the detailed effects and implications of those big ideas alongside what plan needs to be in place to make those ideas a reality. Visionaries are entrepreneurial by nature. They’re the type of people who can dream up creative solutions to problems in the blink of an eye – something that makes them invaluable to the business they run.
Both Visionaries and Pragmatists can succeed alone – but I firmly believe that true success relies on a business built with each type taking core leadership roles.
Are you a Visionary?
If you’re an ideas-driven person, you might fall into the Visionary camp. Here are some questions to consider about what makes up a Visionary’s mindset:
- Are you good at creating new approaches to tasks and challenges?
- Can you improvise well in unplanned situations?
- Do you enjoy getting stuck into new things?
- Are you happy to work with concepts, speculations and ideas?
- Do you enjoy following the rules or bending them where possible?
If your answers to these questions are mostly positive, you’re definitely a Visionary rather than a Pragmatist. However, Visionaries who want to be successful shouldn’t act alone. It’s not enough to simply have the ideas – you need to know how to act on them and make them a reality. To do that, businesses need the support of a Pragmatist.
Understanding why you need a Pragmatist in your business is a case of defining the key differences between each type:
- A Visionary is creative and ideas-driven. They are all about lofty goals and the big ideas that drive the growth of a business. A Visionary mostly thinks about the future. Responsibilities usually involve growth strategy and business development.
- A Pragmatist is guided by practicality, able to clearly see the path towards those lofty goals. Responsibilities include overseeing the execution of business plans and aligning everything with the business’s priorities as well as managing big projects to conclusion.
In some rare cases, you might be enough of a Visionary AND Pragmatist personality to act on your own. But in reality, we all probably overestimate our own capabilities. If we are honest with ourselves, we can quickly identify that we’re more of one than the other.
Why does a Visionary need a Pragmatist?
Visionaries and Pragmatists are like yin and yang – opposites that act in balance to form the foundations for growth. If you’re a Visionary, pairing up with a Pragmatist has the following benefits:
- Pragmatists shape your ideas into actions. A Pragmatist can take your strategy and long-term goals and translate them into a solid plan.
- They ease the burden of managing staff. Visionaries tend to shy away from the details which means they often aren’t good at communicating with and managing people. Pragmatists are excellent leaders that can coach staff and excel at integrating the people, processes, systems, priorities, plans and strategy of a business together.
- Visionaries are often distracted by the “shiny stuff”, with little regard for how that fits in with the business’ focus. This can lead to a lack of consistency and the team can lose sight of where they are headed. Pragmatists can help you stay focussed and break down the overall vision into something more communicative for the team.
- Visionaries take more risks and tend to ‘dive in’ to new concepts with little regard for consequences. A Pragmatist can be an excellent sounding board, filtering your ideas and being a ‘voice of reason’.
A pragmatic approach helps balance a Visionary – but it shouldn’t feel restrictive. If you’re reading this and worried that working with a Pragmatist will somehow hamstring your creativity, I’d encourage you to consider how a good pragmatic role can fit into your business.
In my opinion, the best way for a pragmatic person to support your ambition is in an operations function. You’re already driving the vision and values of the business, so the best way to benefit from pragmatism is by supporting your weaknesses: plotting the course and staying on track- carefully evaluating new ideas that come up, and making sure all efforts contribute to the ultimate goal.
In my Scaling Success Ecosystem, I talk about how three core aspects of a business are fundamental to scaling. Within each of these, the value of a good relationship between Visionary and Pragmatist is clear to see.
- Planning: whilst a Visionary is capable of great ideas and long-term vision, it’s usually the Pragmatist that can map ambition to actions. The Visionary might conceptualise the end result, but the Pragmatist builds the plan.
- Processes & systems: as a Visionary, you probably have ambitions and expectations for your employees and for the way you work with clients. However, you can’t expect things to work in a certain way just because you want them to. A Pragmatist helps you establish business processes and systems to achieve your goals.
- People: Visionaries are great leaders who can inspire their team, but may struggle with the practical side of people management. Conversely, a Pragmatist is excellent at ensuring you're surrounded by a proactive team, allowing you to step into your true CEO role.
So, with all of this in mind, do you think you’re more of a Visionary or a Pragmatist? In my role as a Fractional Operations Director, I provide the pragmatic support a Visionary needs to make their business goals come to life. If you’d like to see how I can support you in reaching the next level, let’s have a chat.
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