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Visionary or Integrator – Who’s running our business?

There are two vital roles at the top of most great entrepreneurial businesses. These roles are called the Visionary and Integrator. Evidence shows that every true Visionary needs to be balanced with a great Integrator if he or she wants his or her vision to gain traction.

A typical Visionary has most of the following characteristics: He or she tends to be more future focused, is the founding entrepreneur, is a great leader, has lots of ideas, is a big-picture thinker, is a relationship person, is a creative problem solver often seeing more than one solution, is a great salesperson, and is a grower and builder and continually expects positive outcomes. Unfortunately, he or she also creates chaos, has no patience for details, has ADD, gets distracted by shiny stuff, and wants to implement every single one of his or her ideas right now (that’s why the Integrator is so important).

A typical Integrator has most of the following characteristics: He or she is a great executor, is a great manager, is more present focused and good at holding people accountable, and creates consistency and prioritization; he or she harmoniously integrates the leadership team. He or she may potentially see obstacles and unfortunately have to say no a lot, is accused of being a pessimist and is typically the bearer of bad news in the organization.

Most true visionary leaders tend to lack the skills and propensity to be great managers. Their creative minds are focused on the exciting possibilities they see on the horizon and beyond, and it’s difficult for them to concentrate on the mundane details of current operations. However, often in small businesses they find themselves in the role of Integrator which is absolutely the wrong place for them to be. An Integrator needs to be an effective manager who is well-organized, can juggle a lot of detail, and who can organise the right processes to get stuff done, which is pretty much all the things the Visionary lacks. In some cases, there’s no choice but for the Visionary to try to shoulder the Integrator role. Maybe this is a brand new start-up or there’s no room in the current budget for a talented Integrator.

Apart from the “That’s me” mode of identification, how can we use science to identify the key facets of these two roles and how can we apply this knowledge to gain real traction in the business.

Working with clients with both the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) and Team Management Systems (TMS) I see the QO2™ Profile as a great tool for leadership teams to review their approach to work and improve both the way they seize opportunities and foresee obstacles.

The QO2™ stands for the Opportunities-Obstacles Quotient and is a measure of the extent to which people are more likely to invest energy in seeing the opportunities (the visionary) or seeing the obstacles. In simple terms it is a measure of the inherent risk a person is likely to accept. It affects their approach to decision-making, change, conflict and just about any situation faced at work.

The Risk-Orientation Model is the basis of the QO2™ concept and defines five sub-scales that are used to calculate the QO2™.

  • MTG Energy - how much energy you put into 'Moving Towards Your Goals'

  • Multi-Pathways - the extent to which you find ways around obstacles

  • Fault Finding - how good you are at seeing potential obstacles

  • Optimism - the extent to which you expect positive outcomes

  • Time-Focus - a measure of your psychological time and your orientation to the past, the present or the future

Getting the correct balance

In the business world, a balance is necessary across the Opportunities-Obstacles scale. In business we need that root of faith; it helps us look for the opportunities that match our beliefs. A tenacity of purpose gives us the persistence to seize the opportunities that come our way. However, also essential is a measure of intelligent doubt to help us avoid unrealistic aspirations. Having an orientation to Seeing Obstacles allows us to have a measure of doubt, which anchors us to reality and prevents us from making mistakes. When we have a good ratio between opportunities and obstacles, we can be a powerful force at work.

People who map strongly towards the Opportunities side of the scale have a high MTG Energy; they set challenging goals and regularly achieve them. When difficulties occur or blockages to their goals arise, they are quick to generate alternative pathways and move around the blockage, still focusing on the goal. They are generally optimistic and full of hope that everything will turn out for the best. They tend to put less energy into finding faults with proposals, projects and people and usually have a positive attitude that can enthuse those around them. For these people, the future is a rosy place that they want to be part of, because it is likely to be better than where they are now.

People who are strongly at the Obstacles end of the scale have a lower MTG Energy and are less able to generate pathways around obstacles. When blockages occur they are more likely to keep going down the same pathway and will quickly give up when their energy is expended. They tend to be more pessimistic and will anticipate the worst possible scenario when problems arise. They will usually put a lot of effort into fault-finding, and this can be both a strength and a weakness. When faced with a new idea they are more likely to identify all the difficulties that might prevent the idea from becoming a reality. Seeing- Obstacles people are also more comfortable with the present and past as, to them, the future is not a rosy place but one that is full of difficulties. Some are nostalgic for ‘the good old days’ when life was much better than it is now.

How best to communicating with Visionary and Integrator types.

Information about other people’s scores can help you communicate with them more effectively. If you have a high QO2™ trending towards the high visionary, low QO2™ may annoy you because:

• They will always seem negative.

• They will tell you why your ideas won’t work.

• They will seem to be resistant to change.

• They will point out the obstacles to any proposals.

• They will seem to be locked into the old ways.

• They will appear naturally pessimistic.

• They will consider that there is only one way to do things well.

Note that these are your perceptions, not necessarily ‘the truth’.

If you have a low QO2™, high QO2™ Visionary types may annoy you because:

• They will never see the difficulties of any situation.

• They don’t live in the real world.

• They always look on the bright side of life.

• They live too much in the future.

• They are always looking at ways to change things.

• They set unrealistic goals.

• They tend to be over-confident.

In order to communicate effectively with others, it is important to understand their model of the world and the things that are important to them. By communicating to them in a language that supports their view of life, you are more likely to win their approval and achieve your outcomes. This is known as the skill of Pacing.

If you stay in your model of the world and don’t make allowances for other people, your interactions are likely to be ineffective. Pacing is the key to influencing others and getting them to see the world from your point of view.

For more on Visionary Vs Integrator, TMS profiles, pacing or just to book you free 90 minute meeting - contact Paul on

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