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Real Life and Not-So-Real-Life Leaders [Infographic]

In our first Between Minds series blog, we explored the unique relationship that exists between Thought Leader and Do Leader. Duos like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer immediately came to mind. And we’ve seen this same Thought/Do Leader dichotomy spring up in everything from TV shows to movies to cartoons.

So we thought it would be fun to create a top five list of the best fictional Thought Leader/Do Leader relationships. Here we go:

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Don Draper and Peggy Olson embody the typical Thought Leader/ Do Leader relationship. Even though Don told Peggy, “That’s how this works. I pay you for ideas,” he’s still more of the ideas man at the end of the day. Peggy just does everything else…including the actual work.

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Ernie has always struck us as more of the dreamer in this twosome — he does sings songs to a rubber duck. Bert, on the other hand, has always been the more practical one, making sure their shared place of cohabitation is cleanly and their twin beds are neatly made each morning.

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C-3PO is said to be fluent in over six million forms of communications, and he’s not one to shy away from letting everyone know his thoughts. R2-D2 may not be much of a talker, but he comes though when there’s a job to be done. For instance, in Return of the Jedi, he rescued Luke, Leia, and Hun from Jabba the Hutt almost single-handedly.

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Charles Montgomery Burns is a man with big ideas (albeit, mostly evil ones). Example: He tried to construct a giant disk that would permanently block out the sun. But we all know it’s Smithers who does his bidding.

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Silent Bob only speaks when he has something profound or insightful to say. Jay handles the day-to-day business.

Now that we’ve explored the not-so-real-life Thought and Do leaders, let’s take a look at some real people. Speaking to Do Leader Bryan Rhoads, World-Wide Social Media Manager for Intel, we learned that Do Leaders understand the importance of great ideas, but know progress isn’t made unless ideas actually are put to work. “I’m incredibly fortunate to have built my role at Intel in that I can take my ideas and act,” Rhoads told us. “I’d slowly die inside if I were only able to theorize, postulate or solely exist in the social media speaker circuit. My business requires results — simply presenting on or writing books on social media is not enough. You need to put your ideas into practice.”

Nilofer Merchant, Thought Leader and corporate director (NASDAQ: EPAX), TEDx / Keynote speaker, and Harvard Business Review columnist agrees with Bryan. “All work has to ultimately be about doing. Any great thought without doing is just hot-air,” Merchant said. “Now that I don’t lead an operational role myself, I miss the speed and place of doing. But that’s one reason I invest and advise start-ups to global firms is to find that practical place to land any idea.”

Rhoads and Merchant also agree that one person doesn’t solely fall into one camp of Thought Leader vs. Do Leader. “Ideally, I’d be 50/50, or at least that’s where I’d like to be,” Rhoads said. Merchant also sees herself in dual roles. “I value getting my hands dirty and creating net real change in the world. At some point, I’ll pick up an operational role again because I respect the role of Doer so much. But for now, I’ll advise other Doers in their good work.”

Being a Do Leader or Thought Leader is not without its downsides. “Being highly visible is double-edged. Successes and failures get noticed,” Rhoads said. “You also need to be extremely comfortable with the stress of change and be prepared to sell your ideas over and over again to audiences who may not fully understand where you taking them.”

Who do a Thought and Do Leaders look up to? For Merchant, it depends on the type of “thinker” that person is. “A role model of academic thinker is Clay Christensen. He is both insightful, and shares credit with others. A role model for corporate thinker is Howard Schultz who has designed an organization that enables people to have meaning at work. A role model for enabling community action thinking is Juliana Rotich, CEO of Ushahidi,” Merchant said. “I find these and many other people quite inspiring in not only what they do, but in how they do it. My point is that while I’ve referenced some famous and some not so famous, each of us can be a role model for one other. If we only notice them, we can learn from them.”

Rhoads gets his inspiration from, “Someone like Dean Macbeth of Old Spice fame…That or Lionel Menchaca with Dell. People who have the strategic vision, plus the ability to get the job done.”

Whether it’s about coming up with ideas, or taking ideas to fruition, both Thought Leaders and Do Leaders understand the importance of both sides of the coin and even see themselves as a bit of each.

Which leader profile better fits you? Last week, we asked you to brainstorm notable real world examples of people who fit into each category: who do you know that’s a “thought leader”? Who is a “do leader”?

We received overwhelming feedback. After carefully considering your suggestions on Facebook and Twitter, we’ve selected just a few of the many deserving individuals for this version of the infographic. Consider them our Luminaries of Thought and Lions of Do. Simply put, these sixteen industry veterans are the leaders, thinkers and doers the rest of us look up to.

You’re welcome to embed this image on your blog, the code is here:

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<a title="Leadership Team Development" href=""><img src="" alt="Creative Leader versus Do Leadership" /></a> Infographic from <a title="Collaboration Tools from Mindjet" href="">Mindjet</a>

And take a look at some of the alternative versions of the infographic we first posted about and let us know in the comment section!

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