“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.“
~Sarah Ban Breathnach
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 can make it happen. Webber writes:
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 doing 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 together with the people who can carry out the vision – the doers? Sound like a familiar challenge?
Let’s face the facts: companies need visionaries as well as people to execute the vision. Every organization depends upon both to be successful. Unfortunately, the marriage between the two can be rocky because each uses a different side of the brain in the process.
In keeping with the 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 the dependency upon both the dreamers and the doers, it creates an interdependence between the two which opens up the possibility of great things happening. It’s not easy. In fact, it can be messy. But if you want great results for your organization, you must find a path forward. Here are a few things to consider on that discovery.
Dreamers must trust the doers with the details
It is important to understand the influence of the dreamers. T. E. Lawrence said, “All men dream: but not equally…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 organization would be today were it not for the dreamer – those who see the big picture long before everyone else 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 those plans, 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 who can carry the team to victory. And when the dreamers understand that the doers can take the vision to completion, it no longer becomes a territorial issue but one of what is best for the team.
Trust must flow between the dreamers and the doers in order for the ideas to work. It’s about learning to share the dream and make it a reality.
Doers must trust the dreamers with the vision
In many respects, doers and dreamers are predisposed to be skeptical of one another. Both work and live on different sides of the brain, and therefore, do not always understand how the other thinks.
But when the doer learns that the dreamer is just as invested in the organization and its success as the doer is, then progress can be made.
Trust between the two is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle for your organization. The dreamer knows what the picture is supposed to look like once assembled. Doers have to trust that the dreamers have the right picture or vision for where the organization is going before the doers start putting the pieces together.
Doers and dreamers must remember that they are on the same team
Trust is nurtured when leadership builds bridges between doers and dreamers. This can be a difficult proposition when you factor in turf wars and egos – especially when the doers and dreamers have been kept apart. Suspicions can run deep.
But Webber adds another point worth mentioning. He says:
But don’t forget: you’ve got plenty of streetsmart 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 work in your company. How do you get access to their kind of knowing, the kind that comes from actual doing?
As a leader, this is what you have to figure out. But it begins when you bring your doers and dreamers together. You have build bridges between your doers and dreamers and get them talking, sharing their ideas and perspectives, and help them build relationships. Because when you do, your organization will be unstoppable.