Visionaries are often seen as innovators. I disagree. An innovator constantly adapts to the environment and improves the business in ways the visionary can’t see. Visionaries get stuck. They tend to see their reality only. They don’t adapt well. They aren’t terribly receptive to feedback or criticism. If they achieve their vision, it is “perfect” and there is no need to change. It’s similar to the difference between a strategist and a tactician. Strategists plan; tacticians implement. Good strategists are often not good tacticians.
For example, Henry Ford was a true visionary, but ultimately a poor innovator. He thought he had all the answers. He was not open to change or criticism. He literally changed the world but struggled to compete in the new world he created when there was real competition from other carmakers and changing customer tastes. He was not in tune with the voice of the customer. He was unable to pivot and innovate as the world changed around him.
Visionaries also often struggle to stay the course and follow through. They are easily distracted by the new shiny object. They enjoy the creative process but not the slog it takes to continue to run a successful operation. They are idea generators, but often not good leaders or team players.
If you are a true visionary, you need help running a successful company. You need innovators and implementers. You need someone to challenge you and help you focus. Don’t get me wrong, the world needs visionaries. So, if that’s you, please keep people around you that can help you move toward your vision. But, if you are someone that wants to make sure things get done, then…
Don’t be a visionary,