Settler vs. Pioneer


I've been reading Seth Godin's latest book, The Icarus Deception. In it he says, "Management is almsot diametrically opposed to leadership." As he goes on to describe why they are opposed it got me thinking about another similar comparison; settlers vs. pioneers.

Settlers live a life in the details. Their days are about managing details and trying to do today more efficiently and easier then yesterday. They are happy with status quo. Status quo means safe, saving money, no surprises. They could care less about what's beyond the horizon. In fact, that's the one thing that really scares them…the unknown. Those things that lie beyond, things outside their control are terrifying.

On the other hand, the unknown is what fascinates the pioneer. Those things that lie beyond are exactly the things that drive her. She is driven by the thought, "I wonder what's over that hill or around that bend?" Pioneers push the envelope. Safe, status quo, no surprises, same old-same old; these are the things that terrify the pioneer. To him it's all about the adventure!

Leaders are the pioneers and settlers are the managers. Managers spread the risk as broadly as possible. Limit change and variation and you can have success or so they believe. Avoid failure at all costs. Follow the map.

Leaders on the other hand, step up and lead. They are willing to put themselves and their reputations on the line. Failure? Maybe, but that just means we're another step closer to the solution! Leaders are perfectly willing to not follow the map. In fact, they're happy to draw a new map!

If you've read this blog for anytime at all, you know which one I am. I've just reread this post and I must apologize for lack of objectivity. The fact is, settlers and managers aren't bad. We need both pioneers and settlers and there is no right or wrong. There is a time and a place for each. 

It's only wrong when the expectation is that you are one and you are really the other.

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