Thursday, April 23, 2009

Visionary Leaders vs. Functional Leaders

The Return Home, originally uploaded by aknacer.

My friend, Steve recently had some excellent things to say about what he termed visionary leaders vs. functional leaders. He says it much better than I, so with his permission, here are his exact words:

  • In all organizations you have visionary leaders and functional leaders. Functional leaders are the people who work up in the system and know how to get the job done. Visionary leaders are the risk takers. They are the ones leading the way, casting a bigger direction, vision, dream, challenge, etc. for the entire group. The problem with so many organizations is that they have functional leaders in visionary leadership positions. Functional leaders will promote those who operate on their level, while visionary leaders will develop the potential in their staff. Visionary leaders can motivate and inspire people to accept the challenge, to follow them to the next level, to think out of the box, and so on.
Where does your organization stand? Could there be some changes?


Danny Brown said...

The sad thing is, there are visionary leaders in every single company that are just seen as troublemakers.

"Challenging the status quo? He's a troublemaker."

"We've always done it this way, that's why. You sound like a troublemaker."

Until companies wake up and see visionaries for what they are, they'll continue to struggle.

In the meantime, the visionaries will have left and gone elsewhere where vision is welcomed.

Or, start their own company and take the customers that want to be looked after by someone always thinking two steps ahead.

Andrew Weaver said...

That is the exact context that he and I were discussing this subject in.

I know of one particular situation where a visionary was told, "When you've been here 20 years, come back and see me." It destroyed his willingness to create things within the company and from that point on he was looking for ways out.

Situations like that sadden me. So often the best talent is wasted when the leadership in place is so quick to find "troublemakers".

Kerry said...

The visionaries need the functionals to implement the structure that will bring the vision to life. It is a circle and each plays a critical role. visionaries are big picture, functionals are detail and implementation. Working in an outdated business model of hierarchy is not conducive to either being successful. Hence Entrepreneurship and the visionary becoming the boss.

Andrew Weaver said...

Thanks for stopping by, Kerry. I agree with you. Both are necessary for a business to function properly and can complement each other. I think I've just seen far too many visionaries pushed aside and simply called troublemakers.