Are You an Implementor or an Enabler?

Businesses revolve around two complementary skill sets: Implementation and Enabling.

Implementors are the people who get things done. They create, shape, cut, refine, prototype, iterate, program, design, manufacture, and ship. They are the craftsmen that create something worth selling.

Enablers are the people who help the implementors focus on implementing. They make sure all of the implementors are working towards the same end result and deal with things that take time away from creating. They are the leaders, managers, and assistants who keep the business side of things running.

Having a mix of implementors and enablers is a very good thing. Implementors can exist without enablers, but they won’t be very efficient. It’s hard to do a good job creating something when you have to worry about calculating payroll taxes. Enablers can’t exist without implementors, since no business can exist for long without something to sell. Leadership and management are worthless without a team of people creating something.

The prevailing business culture seems to emphasize enabling over leading, and that’s a shame. The highly-visible CEO and executive team gets the glory, while the people who get things done behind the scenes are largely forgotten, both in glory and pay. That’s a travesty - neither could exist without the other.

3 Things to Keep In Mind If You’re an Implementor

  • Enablers have a difficult job - getting everyone on the same page and working in the right direction is as tough and challenging as the work you do. Remember to express your appreciation for the work they do.
  • The hallmark of a good enabler is that they work to make things easier for you, not harder. The best enablers will keep you in the loop and shield you from anything not related to implementing effectively. Pay attention to who is really good at enabling, and find a way to work with them.
  • Don’t assume your enabler is your superior, even if they’re your boss. They need you, and they know it. They also love it when you make their life easier. Work as a team of equals, and you’ll get a lot accomplished.

3 Things to Keep in Mind if You’re an Enabler

  • Your job is to make the lives of your implementors as easy as possible. Do everything you can do to make it easy for them to focus on their job. Eliminate distractions, guesswork, politics, and random tasks as completely as you can.
  • Set the direction clearly, then get out of the way. As Peter Drucker once said: “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done." Micromanagement doesn’t help - it gets in the way of getting things done.
  • Cheerleading is an important part of the job. Everyone loves to be appreciated, including your team. Make time to encourage people and express your appreciation for the work they do. Kind words carry a lot of weight.

Where do you fit? Do you consider yourself more of an implementor or enabler? Why?


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