How to Navigate Predictable Tension Between Doers and Dreamers
I heard a tense exchange between a Dreamer* and a Doer*. They’re both committed to a new business venture. But you could feel them trying not to express frustration.
The Dreamer asked the Doer to take charge of key areas of their new business.
Doers don’t like flying by the seat of their pants.
He (the Dreamer) said, “Just take care of it.” She (the Doer) immediately thought of execution and started asking questions.
It’s a new venture. Uncertainty abounds. The Dreamer pulls answers out of the air.
How to go further:
Listen closely to a Doer’s questions if you’re a Dreamer. Doers know how to get things done. Dreamers know how to start things.
Listen closely to a Dreamer’s vision if you’re a Doer. Dreamers know how to create new opportunities.
- A Dreamer without a Doer starts too many things and finishes too few.
- A Doer without a Dreamer perfects processes and misses new opportunities.
Delight in Doer – Dreamer tension. You push each other. If you’re a Dreamer remember that …
Dreamers need Doers more than Doers need Dreamers.
Respect a Doer’s ability to get things done. Yes, a Doer’s need for clarity drives Dreamers crazy. Create as much clarity as possible.
Don’t give quick answers to Doers. Ask them what they need to know.
Explore the questions of dedicated Doers and you’ll get more done. They aren’t being resistant. They’re figuring out how to finish.
Whenever a Doer on the team is eager to move forward, jump on the pony and ride! I recently had a Doer on my team say we should just move forward. I didn’t ask any questions. I moved forward.
How might leaders navigate tension between Doers and Dreamers?
Cracking the Doer – Dreamer – Feeler Code
How Doers and Dreamers Drive Each Other Crazy
How Dreamers Drive Doers to Distraction and Beyond
A good way of encouraging doers is to clarify expectation AND by when something needs to happen/ be in place. 9 times out of 10 a doubtful doer becomes a believer IF the dreamer clarifies the delivery timeline.
Good Morning Macciej. Yes, give as much clarity as possible. One option is to create clarity together. Thanks for jumping in.
We must be fortunate we have “Doers & Dreamers” combinations in many of our people.
Most important is clarity understanding “what needs done” and “how we are doing it’!
If you have everyone on board your good to go.
The difficulty develops when not “everyone listens” or only “hears parts they want to hear”.
So “put a reign on that pony and guide them”, soon they will be ready to run!
Good Morning Tim. Great seeing your comment.
So true. Everyone is both Doer and Dreamer. It’s when the extremes meet that you see the greatest tension.
I distinctly remember the moment I learned to appreciate the Doer’s perspective. I leaned in and asked, “What concerns you about this?” You could see the resistance drain from his face. It takes practice to listen to a person with another perspective.
Glad you included the additional resources as a reminder of the perspective of each type… I especially like the April, 2017 post on “How Dreamers Drive Doers to Distraction.” As schools, churches, businesses, etc. change to be more relevant, addressing the needs of these 2 member groups (and navigating their working relationship) would be big steps in being able to plan, implement, and sustain desired initiatives. And as you pointed out – it’s not an either/or, but rather a both/and.
Thanks Vicki. I’m delighted you found the added resources useful. We’re better off as leaders and teams when we identify and accept the differences and then leveraging the advantages.
But it’s not easy. I always thought a strong Doer was a footdragger. Now I know that was wrong thinking. They just want to finish! Wanting to finish is a good thing!
I sometimes am a Dreamer but am always a doer. What happens with Dreamers around me is that they “expect” me to read their minds and blow off the need to be more specific. I am very creative and can sometimes squeeze “blood out of a stone” but if you give me a stone that’s been dry for 1000 years its extremely difficult. Sometimes I find the “Dreamers” are just moving too fast, if they slow down and define the “dream” and maybe the end goal we can have something to work on. I am not saying all Dreams come to fruition but if you want a doer (IMHO) to at least have a fighting chance you have to give them something reasonable to work with and on. It’s usually the “reasonable” nature of what is first given that causes frustration all around. Dreamers seem to think they have given you everything you need when indeed they have not.
Thanks Roger. Having both qualities in good measure is a great asset. Your suggestion to slow down a bit is right on, but it frustrates strong Dreamers. That’s where Dreamers need to listen and learn from Doers.
The other side is to ask a Dreamer what they hope to accomplish, why it’s important and what the next step might be. Dreamers a great with ambiguous long-term goals. Give them an opportunity to get their heads out of the clouds.
Great Analysis. Reminds me of a great song by Jehtro Tull. Thick as a brick…the doer and the thinker no allowance for the other…
Thanks Thomas. “Thick as a brick,” describes my history with Doers. It took me way too long to figure them out and give them the respect they deserve. I suspect it goes the other way also.
Every time you write about doers and dreamers, I catch myself wondering if I am a dreamer who has had to learn how to do things or a doer who sometimes dreams. I suspect the latter (I am an engineer, after all).
I also wonder if my hybridization is unusual, or if there are more doer/dreamers like me.
Thanks Ken. Yes. We are all both to varying degrees. When I write, I usually think about the extremes. I know a few Dreamers who have practically NO idea of how to get something done. I also know a few Doers who couldn’t dream their way out of a wet paper bag. They put their heads down and get the job done, regardless.
My experience is that engineers lean toward the doer side of things. (Generally speaking)
FYI, The Doer on my team – that I often use as an illustration – is a trained engineer. I’ve always respected him. But, after I came to appreciate the difference between Dreamers and Doers I want to hug him!
BTW, he has a Dreamer side too. But he’s the best person I know for making a plan and getting something done.
As a Doer, I’ve had to learn that it is my responsible to clarify with the Dreamer if this is just a dream or are they really asking me to do something. Many times I have put my head down and gone to work when the Dreamer was just thinking out loud. Then I get frustrated because they don’t appreciate the work I’ve put in.
I’ve also learned that I can dream too and I can’t use the excuse of always having to Do for someone else to keep me from dreaming.
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