First, a definition:
- Visionaries see over the horizon and set the direction of a unit or organization
- Translators interpret the vision and develop strategies to accomplish the objectives
- Implementers execute the actions necessary to achieve the results desired
Each individual has varying degrees of skills and abilities in each one of these three areas, depending upon the subject and context. You may be a visionary in technology, but a translator when it comes to business strategy and an implementer in auditing: Different abilities in different situations.
In assessing the readiness for your next career step, do you see yourself as a visionary, translator or implementer? Are you a 10% visionary, 20% translator and a 70% implementer? Or would it be 50/25/25? Or maybe even 10/50/40? No combination is right or wrong, except when you compare it to what the organization needs? If your next step is with an organization that needs someone who can develop a vision and strategy for the next 5 years, and you are an 80% implementer with 10% visionary and translator skills, the requirements are opposite from your potential contribution. That doesn’t mean you can’t do the job. It only means that your risk factor is higher versus someone who has an 80% visionary profile.
What’s the best combination? It sometimes depends upon your place in the organization. Sometimes if your boss is a visionary, a translator might be needed. If your boss is a translator, an implementer could be best. Or sometimes a visionary may want another visionary on staff as a sounding board. There is no “one size fits all”, but understanding how you function within your environment is critical.
Usually the Visionary is at or near the top of a unit. It could be the President, a department head or the leader of a small group. It’s difficult to be a visionary from the bottom of an organization.
Translators take the vision and evolve it into operational strategies. They are the ones who determine the actions that need to take place to achieve results. The Translators then integrate all of the pieces into a coherent whole.
Implementers are just that… those who execute the strategies into results for the success of the enterprise. They are the “doers” of the organization, executing the strategies to accomplish the vision. Without excellent implementers, the best vision in the world is useless.
So, if I was interviewing you for a position, I’d be looking at how you’ll best fit into the organization, the level that you’ll be performing, plus look at your potential to perform in these different roles. It’s a question of matching and balancing these elements to achieve the objectives of your unit.
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