It’s a hard time to be a Visionary

Sep 8, 2010

It’s a hard time to be a Visionary. Visionaries thrive in an ‘up’ economy: everyone is thinking positively, it’s a time for big ideas, soaring creativity is rewarded, and the resources are available to act on big plans.

In a down economy, the Operators and the Processors take over. Organizationally, this is a time to get your head down, get things done, and get them done as efficiently as possible. Success is in the mundane, the orderly, the routine, the well-managed minutiae involved in eking out a profit.

All of which is to a dyed-in-the-wool Visionary enough to make them want to unfold a paper-clip and stab themselves in the eye.

These last few months in particular, with their meagre economic indicators and bleak forecasts have pushed many Visionaries past the point of frustration into a territory where they feel impotent, unwanted and underutilized – the very worst things for a true Visionary to have to face. Visionaries have a need to be needed, wanted, relevant.

So what? Well, here’s what: If you run a business, one of three things is happening. Either:

1. You run a smaller business and you’re the Visionary (you may also play neither, either or both of the Operator and Processor roles). In which case you’re feeling a lot of internal tension as your intelligence tells you to play down the grand sweeping stuff, and every other fibre of your being wants to break loose and do just that. (I exaggerate for emphasis but you get the point.)

For you, it’s important to find another outlet for your Visionary needs. Home, church, football, gardening, civil war re-creations…whatever. For the sake of your sanity and holding the line in your business, get another outlet.

2. You’re running a medium-sized business and someone else is the Visionary. In this case, it’s highly likely that stresses and tensions between you both are at their peak. You probably disagree about more than you did a year ago. Your communications are stressful, and probably becoming personal. The Visionary is making veiled references to moving on to do something else.

For you, it’s important to get some perspective on how ‘normal’ this phase is (even though it’s exceptionally painful). Third-party facilitation by a Synergist who can talk the language of both of you is vital.

3. You’re running a large business with Visionaries dotted throughout the organization. You’re in danger of losing many of your Visionaries as they seek out other environments where they can be more engaged and valued (as they see it). They’re talking with other, smaller organizations (yes, even in this economy) where they can take a higher profile and engage their Visionary tendencies. Those that stay around are turning negative, sarcastic, even – in the worst cases – bitter.

For you, it’s important to find a way within the organization to redeploy and engage at least some of your Visionaries, otherwise you will lose the entrepreneurial, creative, risk-taking muscle that keeps you in Predictable Success, and you will start to slide into Treadmill (a process that is accelerated in a down economy in any case).

Yep, it’s a hard time to be a Visionary…and a vital time to manage them, too.