I was sitting down the other day with a good friend discussing what I believe are two of the the most important attributes any leader has, vision and the ability to execute. Lately I have heard, and thought a lot about how important it is to be able to execute, and while I can’t ignore that execution is absolutely critical to the success of any enterprise, I thought I would bring the discussion around to what I feel is much more important. Vision.

In America people love Visionaries. That is what makes America so great, we love people that can see things from a distance and have the ability to articulate that vision to the rest of us. It is the dream, what could happen, and what will happen if that visionary can handle execution himself or find someone that can help him. We celebrate Men and Women who have this rare characteristic in books, business blogs, school, and entertainment. I can’t say for sure because I don’t know them all personally, but I would like to think that the greatest people in our time, and the people that have made our time were for the most part all visionaries.

Today in business the champion of Vision is the CEO. In fact,  the first line in Wikipedia under CEO says, “It is the responsibility of the chief executive officer is to align the company, internally and externally, with his or her strategic vision”. If you don’t have vision you shouldn’t be the CEO.

I like to think of it this way. The man with vision in a lumber business prepares for the future to make sure that the trees are there 20 or 30 years down the road, and he gets his organization to buy into that vision today so that the company is around tomorrow. The man with the ability to execute makes sure the company’s resources can cut down the tree AND do it efficiently and effectively.

If you know how to execute, you should be the COO. Take a look at Wikipedia’s definition on COO. “Chief operations officer is a corporate officer responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the corporation and for operations management.” This speaks to tactics, getting in there and getting it done right.

So where do we put the emphasis in terms of compensation. Is it execution or vision that should get the lion share of the company, or salary? I will save that for a future blog, but I can say that I definitely lean towards vision.

So what do you do when you have both vision and execution? Well, you are a one man army.

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