Gino Wickman, author of Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business and founder of EOS Worldwide, has published another cracking book called Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business, co-authored with Mark Winters.
Rocket Fuel investigates the magic that is created when Visionaries (usually the founders and drivers of the business) work effectively with Integrators (usually the managers of the business).
There are many challenges in making this relationship work. Visionaries can be difficult to work with and are quickly bored. They’re not always great at follow-through and they certainly don’t want to spend lots of time pre-planning the inputs, infrastructure and resources required to make their ideas work. These traits can lead to a lot of ideas going nowhere, or never quite reaching their full potential. Integrators, however, are great at dealing with precisely these issues, so they’re a perfect complement to the Visionary.
Rocket Fuel covers the pros and cons of each type of person in a totally balanced way, and I highly recommend a read for all Visionaries and Integrators. However, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus a little more on Visionaries, as often they need the biggest push in accepting the need for a complementary person to help them achieve their goals.
Gino and Mark outline 5 rules that Visionaries and Integrators should follow in their relationship:
Rule 1: Stay on the same page
This is achieved through an off-site, monthly “same page meeting” between the Visionary and Integrator. The aim is to completely clear the air each month and get on the same page so that a united front can be presented from the two leaders in the business to the rest of the organisation. You don’t want any messy discussions or disagreements in front of the rest of the team.
Rule 2: No end runs
An end run is where a member of the team goes to either the Visionary or the Integrator, in an attempt to play one off against the other. In my mind, this is akin to children attempting to play mum off against dad, or vice versa. The solution suggested is really simple and is my favourite strategy of all time.
Let’s say you’re the business owner (Visionary) and a team member comes to you about a certain issue. You have an Integrator in place, who should be the one to make the call on this issue. What should you do?
The recommended approach is to hear the person out and then say; “Are you going to tell ‘em or am I going to tell ‘em? Because one of us needs to tell ‘em.”
The point being made is that the Integrator needs to be told and they will make the call. This simple strategy maintains the united front and will eventually put a stop to end runs.
Rule 3: The Integrator is the tie breaker
This one can be a toughie for business owners. In the event of a deadlock on an issue, it’s the Integrator that breaks the deadlock and decides how to proceed on an issue. (“Wow”, I hear some people saying.)
The logic behind this rule is sound. Visionaries come up with 10 new ideas every week, most of which get kicked into touch or filed for later use. The Integrator takes the one usable idea and says, “Yeah, we can do it but we’ll need to train the team, get a new computer system and require 4 months lead time.”
That’s why you have an Integrator, because they can make your ideas a reality. So in the event of deadlock, they have the casting vote.
If you can’t live by that rule, you’ve got the wrong Integrator in place. Let them go, and bring in someone you can trust to that degree.
Genuine deadlocks or disagreements are not likely to occur too often, but when they do this rule is important.
Rule 4: You are an employee when working ‘in’ the business
Once again this applies most often to the owners (Visionaries). It’s important to remember that you play a role within the business that must be carried out like any other employee. You are also an owner, but that’s a totally separate role and doesn’t excuse you from this responsibility. Don’t let ‘owner’s entitlement’ let you off the hook from doing your day job properly.
Rule 5: Maintain mutual respect
It’s imperative that the Visionary and Integrator have total respect for one another. That doesn’t mean you have to get on all the time, and it doesn’t even mean you have to like each other; but there has to be mutual respect.
The team will know if there isn’t that respect and the relationship won’t work. If, after holding your same page meetings, you can’t find or maintain that level of respect then end the relationship. Visionaries need to find someone who they can have this type of relationship. It’s high trust and you have to have the right person in the role.
Signing up to these 5 rules is no walk in the park for most business owners I know, but it really is the secret of achieving everything you want to in your business life.
I read a fantastic quote recently in relation to this topic. It was posted on LinkedIn by an Integrator. He related a very frank discussion he’d had with the Visionary he worked with. The Integrator told the Visionary:
“Listen. You can DO what you want, or you can GET what you want. Pick one.”
Reading that cut me to the core, because I really get what they’re driving at. It’s a running joke and a badge of honour that many small business owners consider themselves almost unemployable. However, to run a great business and fulfil your potential you need to grow through that phase.
Don’t remain the difficult creative or diva within your own business. Don’t let the power of ownership divert you from your real aims in life.
I hear many owners saying that they wish that their team would stand up to them whenever they’re falling short. But I believe this is asking way too much of your team. Their employment and livelihood depends on you not sacking them. It takes a very strong person to speak up honestly and consistently in the face of that type of power relationship, and it’s unfair to ask them to do so.
You’re the leader. You’ll need to learn to accept that role and live up to it rather than hoping others in your business will do it for you.
Visionaries have groundbreaking ideas. Integrators make those ideas a reality. This explosive combination is the key to getting everything you want out of your business. It worked for Disney. It worked for McDonald’s. It worked for Ford. It can work for you.
From the author of the bestselling Traction, Rocket Fuel details the integral roles of the Visionary and Integrator and explains how an effective relationship between the two can help your business thrive. Offering advice to help Visionary-minded and Integrator-minded individuals find one another, Rocket Fuel also features assessments so you’re able to determine whether you’re a Visionary or an Integrator.