Is it better for your career to be a doer or a thinker – or both?

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Employees are often split into two different types of people, ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers’, and getting the right balance of the two is essential to any successful business.

Thinkers are the creative types who come up with big ideas. They experiment with new concepts and directions but take the time to think about possible outcomes before making a decision. Thinkers understand their customers and different markets and can mold their ideas to fit with the latest cutting edge trends. On the downside however, thinkers can struggle to transform an idea into an action and have been known to think about something for so long that the moment passes.

In contrast, doers are the people who make things happen. They decide on a course of action and get going, even if this means stepping outside of comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory. However, they only have the confidence to do this from within the structure of their usual working environment and guard any changes to this very closely. Another downside to doers is that a course of action is rarely thought through first, and there is often an over-reliance on being fed new ideas from the thinker.

Whether you are a thinker or a doer can often be worked out from the type of industry you work in, for example there might be more doers in the financial sector and more thinkers in the world of NGOs. It’s important you find the right company for you and a role that plays your strengths, RB (Reckitt Benckiser), for example, is a company of doers. We’re driven and ambitious, we’re impulsive and decisive, but we understand thinkers. And it’s this adaptability and understanding at how both doers and thinkers operate which helps us be successful.

If you needed further evidence of this just look at Steve Jobs, he was someone who understood big ideas, but also had the energy and aspiration to turn these into Apple.

If you have been defined as just a thinker or a doer and you feel this is limiting your success in the workplace try challenging yourself. If you’re a thinker, volunteer to be the driving force on a project, or you’re a doer, take a step back to think about all the possible outcomes or take on a project in a different sector, even if this feels daunting.

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One Response to “Is it better for your career to be a doer or a thinker – or both?”

  1. avsarangarajan says:

    Basically, thinkers are leaders & doers are managers. Thinkers set the direction and doers move the organization in that direction. But these 2 functions have become one in today’s managerial environment.

    You need to be a thinker and doer simultaneously. Management schools aim to develop these skills in their students.

    The fact is, unless you do what you think, you can never evaluate your thinking. You need to see the consequences to be able to refine your thinking. So, both should go together.

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