There are several different books that point out the roles of the Visionary versus the role of the Integrator. Which is better? The Visionary imagines new ideas and thinks about the future. The Integrator thinks about execution and focuses more on the present and oftentimes the past.

While different, both of these types of people are needed within an organization. Most people don’t definitively belong within one of these two roles. There are many varieties of Visionaries and Integrators, which oftentimes causes barriers and conflict within the workplace. It is a constant effort and challenge for managers to figure out the best solutions for Visionaries and Integrators to work together.

If the CEO is a Visionary, the threat to the organization is often too many ideas. It doesn’t matter if the ideas are good or not, the organization chokes on struggling to execute the ideas. The Integrators get flooded with work and don’t perform well. They get frustrated and start to push back on new ideas, regardless of their value. They lose ownership. They become disengaged. The CEO gets frustrated as they see a decline in performance and struggle with an organization that can’t keep up with them.

If the CEO is an Integrator, the threat to the organization is an inability for the organization to strategically change and grow itself. The visionaries inside the company become frustrated as they have to deal with the same challenges and frustrations over and over again. They become disengaged or even toxic and eventually leave the company. One day the organization finds itself obsolete and unable to compete effectively.

There are lots of studies that show that both the Visionary and Integrator can make excellent CEO’s. What really determines the success of the company is the organization’s ability to systematize how the Visionaries and Integrators can work together. In great companies, the Visionaries are free to ideate, but their ideas are vetted, prioritized, and launched in combination with the Integrators. This combined perspective is executed via a robust and ongoing strategic planning process. This sets big picture objectives and tracks short term goals and initiatives designed to make changes.