The Curator, The Executor, and The Innovator

What type of leader are you? This is a question that has spawned a number of books, blogs posts, conferences, surveys etc…

Despite the sea of great information on this topic, I want to share with you what I believe are the three [basic] types of leaders. I truly believe that with enough honesty and self-awareness most people can place themselves in one of these “big buckets.” In fact, it is now what I use to distinguish between types of leaders here at Renovation.

While these categories or buckets are general in nature, I have found that they serve as an excellent framework for how leaders typically function.

Don’t read down! First, answer these questions.

  1. If given the option, based on your first and base instinct would you:
    1. Establish a new museum?
    2. Be Executive Director of an established museum?
    3. Curate and maintain the artifacts of an established museum?
  1. If you were hired by an established, well-run museum, would your first instinct be to:
    1. Execute the best practices that make the museum run well?
    2. Curate and maintain the artifacts of the museum, in an effort to keep its present status as an enjoyable and interesting place to visit?
    3. Tirelessly seek ways to make this well-run museum better?


The Curator

A Curator is “The keeper or custodian of a museum or other collection.”  This is a necessary leader to have within every team. The curators of your organization/team are those that love preserving the systems and people that are presently in place. You can quickly identify this type of leader by the high level of care they display and the caution with which they approach every situation. They care deeply about the systems that have been created and the people who are in them. They believe the current system is the best and therefore it must be maintained. Their goal within the team/organization is to curate or maintain the artifacts in an effort to keep its present status as enjoyable and interesting a place as possible.


The Executor

An Executor is “a person who produces something or puts something into effect: the makers and executors of policy.” These are the do’ers of the organization. They are task oriented. They see the systems of an organization as a tool to accomplish a set goal. They love the structure that is in place, but are constantly looking within the framework to tweak it, so that the system runs optimally. This type of leader tends to be highly efficient and proficient, able to accomplish a multitude of tasks with relative ease. These are the executive directors of the world. They are inclined to work the system, seeing that it runs as optimally as possible through the task set before them. To them, top priority is executing the best practices that make the organization run well.


The Innovator

An Innovator is “a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products.” These are the agitators of your organization. They are those who are not so much concerned with making the organization run well, but making sure it is well-run. They don’t particularly care for any system, even if it is their own creation, beyond the point that it helps accomplish the goal. These leaders are highly curious. While they may operate within a system, they are constantly wondering why it functions the way it does, what its purpose is, how it can be better, or if it even needs to exist. They have a love of what could be. They are those who want to break the system entirely and start over, if necessary. They believe that often the best way to accomplish a goal is to build a brand new system or completely overhaul the existing one.

Now look back at your answer those questions. What type of leader are you?

Next, use those questions to evaluate and direct those on your team(s).
Let me know if this is helpful and share it with anyone who you believe it will benefit!





  1. Above quoted definitions taken from Webster’s Dictionary.
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