I’m continuing in the series “WORKING WITH A VISIONARY.”
If you’ve missed the posts leading up to this one, you can catch up here!
Working With a Visionary Part 1
Conversations between Visionaries and Doers
How to say Yes to an idea AND Yes to my boundaries
Priorities? Isn’t everything important?
What are the best ways to communicate within your visionary/operator duo?
Working With A Visionary and Defining Roles
What rhythms will make me the best operator I can be?
Moving to Success
Today I want to share an extremely valuable lesson.
I can say Yes to an idea and Yes to my boundaries.
There is conflict if this is not learned.
Visionaries have ideas. Often. They’re thinking of where they want their organization to be in 5 years, and what it will take to get there. They’re excited about what it looks like to start what is next in order to fulfill the vision of what they’re hoping to realize.
Visionaries see their dream fulfilled, not the work involved in getting there. In fact, a lot of times whatever it takes to have their dream fulfilled doesn’t feel like work to them until the last 20% of the project. The last 20% is where they begin to move on to the next thing that will push them forward in the fulfillment of their dream.
Meanwhile, Doers often see the work involved, and miss the big picture. Doers are completing the last 20% while the Visionary is creating and implementing new ideas. As they work in the midst of the details, Doers can completely forget the vision.
Here’s what can happen.
Visionary gets new idea.
Visionary tells new idea to Doer.
Doer commits to doing it.
Doer becomes overwhelmed.
Visionary has new idea of how to make previous idea better.
Visionary asks Doer to make it happen.
Doer says Yes.
Doer has overcommitted.
Visionary has a new idea…
You see what’s happening here.
Both the visionary and the doer have responsibilities when it comes to new ideas. The visionary has a responsibility to channel his/her idea making. Some ideas need to be placed on a back burner, but sometimes the visionary really DOES need to pursue the ideas to make the vision a reality. When this is the case and the Doer is not able to take on more tasks, then the Doer has a responsibility to understand his/her own limitations. It is the Doer’s responsibility to not overcommit and to say NO for themselves, but YES to the idea.
Saying YES and NO to the wrong things, actually can stunt the growth of the organization. A Doer who cannot see their own limitations can hurt the work.
For the Doer, understanding their limitations does not mean saying no necessarily, to what it takes to fulfill the vision. It might just mean saying no to their own involvement. It means using creativity in order to get the job done. Here are some possible alternative responses:
-Yes! Great idea. I can see why that is important and necessary. I know JUST the person to lead this project.
-Yes! Great idea. I would love to begin brainstorming this with you after I finish… Can we begin in 2 weeks? [or whatever is a reasonable time frame.]
-Yes! Great idea. Can you begin the project without me, and let me catch up with you when you get to the next phase of the project?
Jeff and I found ourselves in this complex tension a few months ago. I realized that with every new idea Jeff had, I said no initially, and then overcommitted. I wasn’t supporting his leadership. I was being a bit of a dream-killer. I definitely did not WANT that to be true of me, so when I got over my dream killing, I overcommitted myself. This also did not help us.
I had to start thinking about saying no in a new way. In some cases, I started saying Yes to Jeff, but No to my own involvement. I knew what was already my responsibility, and I also knew I couldn’t take on more and still do everything well.
Realizing our limits frees us to do a really good job at the things that need finishing. Saying yes to an idea, but no for myself gives others opportunities. It creates balance and can give a new perspective in which to see the work.
How have you learned to recognize your limitations and not overcommit? How do you interact with your team in the midst of this?