(Excerpt from The Vision Thing by Fred Wilson)
… leadership comes in two flavors, visionary leadership and operational leadership. Founders are almost always visionaries (if they aren’t, run in the opposite direction) and hired CEOs are almost always operators.
… Leaders who can provide both operational and visionary leadership are a rare but special breed. When you find one, get on their bus and stay on it for as long as you can. It will be an incredible trip.
It is also the case that you can pair visionary leadership with operational leadership and I have seen that model work very well for long periods of time. Most commonly, the visionary leader is “in charge” and the operational leader runs the business on a day to day period. That can be an Executive Chairman (visionary) and a CEO (operator) or it can be a CEO (visionary) and President/COO (operator). Most commonly in this model, the visionary leader is the founder and the operator is a hired executive.