How Dreamers Drive Doers to Distraction and Beyond

Organizations need more doers than dreamers.

A team of dreamers will start a thousand things and finish none. (Yes, that’s an exaggeration. Everything in this post is a bit exaggerated.)

doers fix the train wreck dreamers create.


Dreamers start things. Doers finish things.

Doers think dreamers:

  1. Start too many things.
  2. Get distracted by shiny objects.
  3. Don’t finish what they start.
  4. Don’t understand how much work it takes to finish.

Dreamers think doers:

  1. Begin with, “No.”
  2. Drag their feet.
  3. Spend too much time planning.

It’s easy to dream if you haven’t finished anything.

Dreamers cp. Doers

  • Dreamers thrive on progress.
  • Doers thrive on plans.
  • Dreamers think people will figure things out.
  • Doers think no one knows what’s going on.
  • Dreamers figure things out as they go.
  • Doers figure things out before they go.
  • Dreamers enjoy freedom and flexibility.
  • Doers enjoy processes and systems.
  • Dreamers start with ‘yes.’ “Let’s get going.”
  • Doers start with ‘no.’ They don’t begin things they can’t finish.
  • Dreamers get in over their heads.
  • Doers save the day when lack of planning creates a crisis.

  • Dreamers think about what could go right.
  • Doers think about what could go wrong.

Doers fix the train wreck dreamers create. 

7 tips for leaders:

  1. Convince a doer they can succeed and they’ll go through hell to finish.
  2. Listen to a doers ‘no.’ Answering their reluctance is creating a workable plan.
  3. Dreamers are flashier than doers.
  4. Honor hard work more than big talk.
  5. Ask doers, “What do we need to do?”
  6. Ask dreamers, “Where do we need to go?”
  7. Beware of resentment between dreamers and doers. They rub each other the wrong way.

Everyone is both a dreamer and a doer. But all of us are more one than the other. The more of one you are, the more frustrating the other becomes.

Skillful leaders notice and navigate collisions between doers and dreamers.

What’s the difference between doers and dreamers?

How might leaders maximize the strengths of doers and dreamers?