Episode 78: Why Visionary CEOs Struggle with Management

When you think about the roles of a CEO, a few probably come to mind. 

They lead the team, make crucial decisions, and envision the business’s future.

More importantly, CEOs are great inspirational leaders who thrive on aligning their team with their visions.

But there’s one role most people expect them to do—which they’re not usually good at: 


Although they have several roles to fulfill as a CEO, they also settle management issues like low productivity, low-performing teamwork, lack of structure, time management, and so many other essential team pieces. 

Do you also struggle with some of these as a CEO?

On this week’s episode of The Elevate Effect™ podcast, I’m answering the hard-pressing question:

Why do CEOs struggle with management?

Is it really something you should be dealing with? 

Would it be better delegated to someone from the team?

When you know your non-negotiable CEO roles, you uncover focus areas for your personal and business growth, so you can lead your team to greatness.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • 3 reasons why CEOs are typically weak in the management area
  • Leadership vs. Management
  • Roles you need to hire to keep the management up and running


Featured on the Show:


Hey, CEO! Welcome back to the podcast. Overall of the years that I've been coaching CEOs, I can tell you that most of the men and women that I've spoken to, even though they're in a leadership role, even though they have the title of CEO, they show up and say that they doubt whether they're actually a good leader, they question their skills, they say they don't feel like a CEO, they don't think they're doing a good job. And they don't know the way out of that. They really begin to brainstorm how to just move themselves out of that role completely, because they don't think that they're good enough at it. And they don't really stand up for the things that they believe in and want in certain cases, because they think everyone else is right. And they just view certain elements or aspects of the way that they approach their work as weaknesses, when in fact, those very same things are actually strengths. And so I want to dive into this because there are certain skills that are required to operate a business. And those are much different than those required to envision the future of the business and really imagine what success looks like. And that means there's actually two different kinds of leaders that every business needs. And most of you aren't going to be great at both. But you're expecting yourself to be great at both. Most of you are really wired to be one kind of a leader when your business needs not only what you bring, but a completely different kind of leader that is completely different than what you have to offer, that wouldn't make sense for you to even be able to do both in most cases, but that so many people in the leadership space talk about as if you should be able to do all of the above. 

So what am I really talking about here, it's in a nutshell at what I'm going to refer to this as is a difference between leadership and management? And as a visionary CEO, you're going to be great at certain aspects that I'll classify under leadership. But you may struggle with some of the aspects that are more so management. Leadership is all about really molding a team and the individuals on a team. While management is all about really getting more done supervising operations, supervising the team managing the work, if you will, yes, managing the resources, the capacity. But while leaders are casting that big picture vision, managers are making it happen, they're making it a reality. A lot of times this is talked about as either owner versus operator, or visionary versus integrator, CEO versus COO. But a lot of that language isn't really introduced. Until you're a bit further along in business. Sometimes those differences, and names and titles aren't something you're thinking about when you just crossed the six-figure mark and as you're on your way to seven figures because you don't think about hiring a COO oftentimes until you're much further ahead. But I want you in the time that you're really serving in both of those roles, to understand the difference, and not beat yourself up, or really let the areas where you're not naturally gifted to serve in impact your perception of your capability to lead your business. 

If you're a visionary CEO, you are wired to lead your business. And that doesn't mean all the things that you're making it mean. So what is the difference here? And what are you wired to do? A lot of times, there are these strengths and weaknesses that are really two different sides of the same coin. And so I want you to celebrate the things that you are incredible at and do more of that. And maybe in the short term, you really have to step into this unnatural role, but eventually, you can hire someone in to help. So in the meantime, let's talk about these three different scenarios where you're strong at one thing and that means that by default, you're probably weak at the other. So first visionaries focus on the destination and not the directions. Without a true visionary, so many businesses would just stagnate and eventually even fail, due to an inability to continue to evolve. To keep up with the changes in the world and the industry, visionaries are required for growth. And they're generally great at really inspiring a team helping paint this picture of where the business is going, and what the change in the world looks like that you want to make before it's ever even a reality. Visionaries know where that company is going but they struggle sometimes to find the best path to get there. Many times people who are natural visionaries, struggle with order, and management, and efficiency. And you may have some ideas for how to get there. But it may not be the most organized way, it may not be the most efficient, the fastest, the most sustainable way. And that's where the operators really come in. And they are required to create that organization, and to find the best way to achieve that vision, the best way to take those ideas that you have as a visionary, and turn them into the plan for how to get there, and to end to really manage that plan along the way. 

The second thing is visionaries are great at the big picture, like the 30,000-foot view, they're not great at details. It's interesting because a visionary can give you details about what they see in their brain that hasn't even happened yet. But then to break that down and communicate that to turn that into reality. They struggle. So yes, maybe you can see that big picture. But then you start to try to explain that to a team member to help implement. And they don't understand a word you're saying. It sounds like a different language. So visionaries are great leadership overall, but struggle with management in this aspect to leadership meaning alignment of the big picture of values, the vision goals, and providing that direction of just that 30,000-foot view of how everything looks and works together. Vision comes so naturally, you're able to see things that other people can't imagine. But then you need an operator someone to manage the team in order to turn that big vision into the details, streamline operations, supervise the team connect all the dots together, even though you can kind of see it, that doesn't mean you can help everyone else see it and create it. So visionaries really struggle because those operational processes don't come naturally. 

The third thing is visionaries tend to focus on what's possible, not necessarily what's realistic, and that's a good thing. Because visionaries create new things in the world all of the time, we need you to imagine what's possible, even when no one else thinks it's realistic, but that means that when it comes time to actually implement things, visionaries tend to struggle with management, because they tend to push their team to do things sometimes that really aren't possible. There's typically a way to make it possible. And that's where an operator and integrator comes in. But it may not be in the way that the visionary thought. So visionary may think, yes, I want this, and I want it yesterday. And it needs to have all of these elements. And we need to make all of these changes immediately. And an integrator is going to be able to come in and say, all right, we can deliver all of this to you. But not immediately, we need to break this down into phases, or they're going to say we can do all of this by tomorrow. But this piece will need to be put on hold because of XYZ. And so integrators can really see the relationship between all the parts and pieces and the timing, and really control the chaos and keep their teams focused on one phase at a time where visionaries typically just want it all right now. 

So keep in mind that as a visionary CEO, you're going to be that great inspirational leader, you're going to be able to think about the big picture, think about the destination, think about what's possible. But communicating and managing a team is something that you may struggle with because it's almost like you need this liaison, this translator in between to take that big picture and turn it into something that the implementers on your team can really understand. Leadership may be focusing on that big picture culture. It's really the feel-good that where we're headed operators are going to handle the day-to-day getting things done moving the needle forward. So CEO, if you're listening to this, I know that you focus on that destination. And it's okay that you don't have all the directions, and know that you can see the big picture. And it's okay that you don't have every detail for how to make it happen. It's okay that you're focused on these big-picture goals. And what's possible that no one's created before and it's okay, if you're not 100% realistic. We need you in the headspace that you're so gifted that we need you to dream. And if you ever have an operator, a second command, a coach, someone else trying to change you to make you more realistic to force you to give more details, to figure out all the step by step how, then they're asking you to do something, that's probably not your strength. And so yes, if you're serving in all of the roles of your business early on, then that means you're going to need to learn how to do those things in the short term, at least good enough. So you can develop and improve, but don't feel like you have to do those things perfectly. You're just filling a role in the interim. But eventually, you're going to look to hire an operator or hire an operations-minded coach to help. If you take just one thing away. I want you to know that your business needs you the way that you are. Your business needs, what you bring to the table. And those are strengths. They are not weaknesses. Your business could not survive long term without you pushing forward and thinking about this bigger picture of this destination and what's possible. 

You are a gift to your business, so don't let it frustrate you when you don't have all the directions, the details, or you're not realistic according to some standards. All right, go show up. Go be you, embrace your strengths. Shore up your weaknesses but don't dwell on them. Be you, be great. You got this! And we're here to support you. See you next week!

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