The Case for Doing a Reverse Accountability Chart

The Case for Doing a Reverse Accountability Chart

I am blessed to be part of a community where people help each other. Over the past couple of weeks, my fellow EOSi’s (our name for other EOS® Implementers) have shared countless bits of wisdom that have helped me in the conversations I have been having with the leaders of companies that have been affected by the coronavirus and in my own business.

The Accountability Chart is designed as a key growth tool to cast a vision for the roles in your organization going forward (i.e., creating the right seats) and leveraging that and your values to make sure you have the right people in all those seats. In a dramatic downturn, this core tool of EOS can also be used to project needed changes, and we call that doing a reverse accountability chart. Here is a link to our lead coach, Mark O’Donnell, explaining how to do that activity. As we come up to our quarterlies, I will be putting that on all the issues lists and we will have a conversation about when or if we do it for your leadership team. In a recent conversation with a leader, they questioned the ‘humaneness’ and ‘awkwardness’ of doing such an activity with their leaders. Their question – What if a seat is eliminated? My return question is always – What if it isn’t and it should be?

This post is not about explaining how to do a reverse accountability chart because Mark does that in his post. I want to focus on the why, to make the case that being open and honest up front is actually less painful than hiding it. Let this be my Johari Window moment, and I will share a piece of my story that is actually at the root of my passion for the accountability chart, because I personally experienced a transition where it was not done in an open and honest way.

My role was leading people and strategy for a financial institution that made most of its income through mortgage products and the income off a nine-figure portfolio of loans. When the mortgage crisis started to unwind in 2008, our CEO reacted by coming in one day and making the declaration to the leadership team that we needed to stop offering our core loan product at our 3 non-Michigan sales offices, switch everyone to selling conventional mortgages, and stop opening new offices. It became clear to me almost instantly that my seat and accountabilities changed dramatically, and the part of the role that I really GWC’d was gone. Remember my role was to direct strategy and help achieve RP/RS, so almost immediately I knew the organization really did not need my role anymore. There was very little conversation around the change and we all quickly jumped into action mode of doing it.

As a father of four young children, and with my wife taking a break from her career as a nurse to stay at home with the kids, I kept my thoughts to myself and threw myself into helping the organization through the changes ahead. We retrained our salesforce to sell a new product and with a new customer experience, and later, through a similar decision directly from our CEO, implemented a 10% reduction in our staff. Finally, 7 months after that initial announcement, I set up a time to go talk to our CEO and shared with him that my job was really no longer needed and I needed to leave the organization. The first conversation was him trying to convince me that I had value and my assignment was to think about it. We set up a time to talk right after Christmas. The second conversation was short, because my mind did not change, and we picked a date of March 31 that I would leave the organization.

There’s more to this story, and in the end I look back and realize it was a necessary step for me ending up here, being an EOS partner with a handful of great companies and dozens of great leaders. But there was a personal and professional cost to this path, and it was one of the toughest things I ever did. It would take pages to share the personal pain and anguish it caused within me to take the road of silence and hidden realities. To reference a Robert Frost poem, my passionate plea is that in these situations the road less travelled is the open, honest, and vulnerable road of the reverse Accountability Chart. Speaking from experience, that road can make all the difference and when it comes to hard conversations, I work hard to make the road less travelled the one I take.

Take a look at Mark’s post, and I encourage all of you to think about how this tool could help you face some of the uncertainties that could hit us over the months ahead. Also know that when I am talking about it, it is not just a tool, but an option I wish I had in 2008 because I would have gladly chosen that option vs the road I travelled.

Several tips for navigating your work:

  1. Remember, this is a time when your values and culture can come alive despite the remote nature of our work – or even for those of you having to do temporary layoffs. Here is a post from me that will give you some actions to take: Leadership and Social Distancing: 5 Tips To Increase Trust and Team Health Despite Our Current Reality
  2. Wisdom from an EOS peer of mine, Ken DeWitt, about An EOS Company’s Guide To Surviving The Coronovirus
  3. There are opportunities in this situation, and part of seeing them as leaders is just stepping back and shifting our perspective. The two questions I have in front of me every day are: Why is this a gift to me? What is it offering that I don’t see?
  4. Finally, here is the post from Mark about the Reverse Accountability Chart. Keep it handy, and watch it when it is time. If you don’t get the blog posts from EOS worldwide, it would be a good time to sign up as they are particularly helpful right now.

Final Tip: Sometimes kids have the answer for all of us. Here is a timeless YouTube video that reminds me of that and always makes me smile. Jessica’s Daily Affirmation

Stay healthy and lead well!

Leadership and Social Distancing: 5 Tips To Increase Trust and Team Health Despite Our Current Reality

Leadership and Social Distancing: 5 Tips To Increase Trust and Team Health Despite Our Current Reality

In the last recession, I experienced it personally and witnessed the phenomenon of leaders stopping annual performance conversations because there was no money for raises. The outcome from the people I talked to was a decreased trust in their leaders and decreased clarity of what is my role?. This is not the last recession yet, but with the work from home directive that impacts millions of people, it has the potential to be worse because of the real risk to the mental health of our workforce. It is also a great opportunity for leaders to build healthier and stronger teams despite the challenging times we have ahead. This is a guide to make this opportunity a reality for your team, and the other significant relationships in your life. (I know this is a big claim, and yet the same things we do at work to build healthy relationships also work in our homes and communities)

As we go virtual with our work, our meetings, our friendships, and how we connect as families, don’t let distancing become isolation. Let me also state the obvious fact that just being talked at during virtual meetings or having to participate with choppy video and only hearing bits of the conversation FEELS like isolation. Here are some tips for leading well in social distancing so that the feeling of connectedness and trust within our team gets stronger during the time ahead of us.

  1. Have weekly meetings with your whole team. If you don’t do that and are not sure what it would look like check out the L10 Meeting ™ tool I use as an EOS Implementer ™ on eosworldwide.com or contact me and I will send you a copy.
  2. Make a habit to call each member or your team and your peers 2-3x a week to check-in. Ask about how the home office is working, if they need anything that would make it easier, what questions might be bouncing around the organization or their head that need an answer, and learn how their family is working in this new normal.
  3. Send them a gift card/cash to them every couple of weeks to spend for some takeout food at a local restaurant. These businesses are hurting with the new rules and many will fail if we don’t help a little. If budgets are cut at your business, dip into your wallet.
  4. Do a virtual happy hour every few weeks to end a day/a week and invite family members to attend. If you are looking for some ways to make it an impromptu team building session contact me. (What an opportunity – team gatherings without babysitters and logistics planning for space, food, etc!!!!! Give a seven-year old an audience and you could have talent show!)
  5. Have everyone (including you) on your team make a weekly list of 5 people, either personal or professional connections, and commit to do a check-in call. Make a weekly rhythm of reviewing and resetting the list and have people share share any impact stories from the conversations.

Know that the formula of Social Distancing = Social Isolation = Depression becomes a reality for you and for your team if we behave our way into it. Take it from someone who has personally experienced this reality, we need to do everything we can to help the people around us not experience it. Just because we have to social distance does not mean we have to experience the destructive mental and emotional effects of isolation – we need to be smarter than that. At work, the solution can start with you as a leader. At home it starts with you as the parent, spouse, and friend.

Let us all be lights of resilience and agave love.

Lead well.

My offer:

If you have a new person let me share with you a tool I use to connect people through knowledge of each other called the Team Member Fact Sheet. For the first 10 leaders that ask I will mail you 2 of them so you can connect with a newer member of your team, despite this new virtual reality.

Leadership Books & Courage

Leadership Books & Courage

One of the best leadership books I read last year was Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.

As I work with leaders through the EOS® process and as part of the LeaderWork program, I am constantly in situations where I see people display courage and speak/hear truth, and where not enough courage is there – yet. The irony is, I am like my clients – sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t.

This book will help you rethink courage and vulnerability in such a way that, as adults, we can have more impact and let go of some of the things that are taking up too much of our brain/thought space. In EOS we call it headtrash, and the author refers to it often as the stories we tell ourselves.

This book review is simple: here are a dozen quotes I love. If you want more, there is a link at the end to the note I wrote myself to help me return to the forty-four pages that contain the nuggets of wisdom I will come back to often this year.

If you want a free copy, here is a simple way to potentially earn it. Share this on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook in the next week and tag me. From those names, I will draw 5 and send you a free copy!

Make 2020 about Courage, Vulnerability, and leading in your life!
~ Scott

P.S. Here is a link if you want to buy a copy right now.

My Favorite Quotes

All from Brené Brown:

  • Calm: Creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity. 
  • We asked a thousand leaders to list marble-earning behaviors – what do your team members do that earns your trust? The most common answer: ask for help. 
  • In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. 
  • The 3 most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our lovability, divinity, and creativity.
  • Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome. 
  • Just remember, we can’t do our jobs when we own other people’s emotions or take responsibility for them as a way to control the related behaviors for one simple reason: other people’s emotions are not our jobs. We can’t both serve people and try to control their feelings.
  • The Vulnerability Armory: As children we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished, and disappointed. We put on armor; we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person we long to be – we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapons, show up, and let ourselves be seen. 
  • Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval. 
  • Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers Achievement. 
  • Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is a defensive move.
  • Confabulation: A lie told honestly.

And one from Joseph Campbell (for Star Wars fans, he consulted with George Lucas on the films):

  • The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. ~ Do you remember the scene that uses this?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

EOS® for Everyone: Feeling Overwhelmed / Too Busy? Here is Step One…

EOS® for Everyone: Feeling Overwhelmed / Too Busy? Here is Step One…

Earlier last year, I was 45 minutes from home and 30 minutes from the start of an EOS session when I realized I had left my bag at home with all my notes for the day – including a bunch of handouts for this team.

I panicked, then I took a deep breath and went about solving the problem. Thanks to a quick delivery by my wife and a few deep breaths, we had a great day – ending with a 9.1. In 225+ days, that has never happened.

Remember the EOS lesson of Hitting the Ceiling?
Total transparency – forgetting things I should not is my symptom.

My next step was to fix me so that never happened again. I dusted off the Back to the Basics Checklist on page 33, under the Toolbox tab in the EOS manual, and the issue was Q4-Following the Process and Q5-Taking Clarity Breaks. If you want to know next steps, just call me or ask me at our upcoming sessions and I will tell you the rest of the story.

My message – when you start feeling and/or showing the strain of handling your accountabilities, the first step is acknowledging it and the next step is proactively solving the problem.

I have seen some very hollow looks from leaders in the last 6 months, and my heart kind of breaks a little each time because I know how that look feels intimately. It is sad when the team is open and honest and the leader either deflects it with some sarcasm or says something like “I got it” – because I cannot think of a time when a leader actually got back on track after making that statement.

We are in a new year, and it is a time to reset rocks and goals, get your life at work and at home aligned with your priorities. The annuals are a great time to handle the professional part, and if you are wondering about the personal part let me know and I am glad to pass on some things that have built my own capacity in the past.

Here are some EOS tools that will help you address that overwhelmed feeling at work:

  • Back to the Basics Checklist
  • Delegate and Elevate (do it at least once a year)
  • Clarity Breaks (here is a video of me talking through my form)
  • Scorecard: Start tracking some of the habits you have around refreshing and reenergizing. For example, I track Clarity Breaks and Days of Exercise as personal health measures. For me, if those numbers stay on-track, I stay on-track.

Don’t forget to join the Me Time for Leaders learning journey if you need support in building the Clarity Break habit.

EOS® for Finance: Developing financial literacy

EOS® for Finance: Developing financial literacy

As the finance lead, you are in a unique position help the whole organization with their own financial literacy. I have heard several leaders in the finance seat get feedback to increase their facetime with the organization, so I want to remind you of the unique opportunity you have to help strengthen the DATA component (remember the EOS® Model) and equip the leaders with knowledge to be more data-driven decision makers.

A few ideas:

  1. Facilitate the 8 Cash Flow Drivers tool with a group of leaders. If having a co-facilitator would help, let me know and I would be glad to do it.
  2. Volunteer to come to any L10 to help a team IDS a topic that needs financial input.
  3. Set up a review rhythm of budgets, capital plans, or anything else you drive in the organization (some of you do all the quoting) with the group of leaders that are impacted by your decisions – to review, listen, and help develop and/or tweak the process so it works better.

Here’s the past post that has a couple of other ideas: http://www.thetrugroup.com/2019/10/eos-for-finance-developing-financial-literacy-in-your-organization/

Contact me if you need more guidance.

EOS® for Visionaries & Integrators: Breaking Through the Ceiling

EOS® for Visionaries & Integrators: Breaking Through the Ceiling

In the last 6 months, I have looked into the eyes of some overwhelmed leaders. You are both in a tough position, because the team looks to you for strength and leadership, and yet you are human and hit the ceiling like anyone else.

  • Who does the Integrator turn to for support? The Visionary
  • Who does the Visionary turn to for support? The Integrator
  • What if you sit in both seats? See below

Both of you should find a peer group in which you can feel safe to talk. Some examples include Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), Vistage, Young Presidents Organization (YPO) or, in West Michigan, Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring (JEM). Having a mentor or finding another peer group that meets monthly can also be a great place to get some help.

The most powerful thing you can do is to admit to your team that you are hitting the ceiling and then do something about it. Remember our first conversation about being a good leader is a lot like being a good parent?

  1. Have a few rules 
  2. Repeat often 
  3. Walk the talk

If you don’t walk the talk on taking care of yourself so you don’t hit the ceiling, your team won’t either – it is that simple.

Make sure you are supporting each other (or getting support from an outside group) and you are walking the talk when it comes to being your best.

TIP: Remember the Back to the Basics Checklist under the toolbox tab (p. 33) to help you think through what you need to do to break through the ceiling. And contact me if you need more help.

EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

As you look to 2020, consider the perpetual challenge for all leaders working in an EOS organization – Do you want to be a GREAT leader?

Remember the statements I shared in the 90 Minute Meeting about the assumptions we make about leaders? The two assumptions we make about leaders in EOS are:

  1. You genuinely care about your people
  2. You want to be a GREAT leader

If either of these are no, then likely the organization needs you to look for another seat.

Are you pushing yourself to be a GREAT leader? Prove it – give me two things you are doing outside of working in the business to become a more effective leader.

The good news is, in EOS we have something called LMA, which stands for Leadership + Management = Accountability. In addition, we give you checklists for both leadership and management (pp. 20 – 21 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) and a measuring system of yes or no (with feedback from your people). I can almost guarantee if you have some open and honest conversations, one of these will be a No and give you something to work on.

We also have the Back to the Basics checklist (p. 33 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) that helps you analyze why your Rock % is low, why your team is missing key metrics, or why you just feel a little out of control or unbalanced in your work/home life. The answers to these questions actually translate into key skills you might need to acquire with some outside training. (Call me if you want to talk through this.)

As you head into 2020, take some time to reflect on whether you put the necessary effort in to being a great leader in 2019? If not, take a look at both of these checklists and identify a couple of focus areas for 2020. We will do some of this work in an upcoming annual with the Team Health/1 Thing exercise, but why wait?

As always, how can I help?

(Top tip: If you are looking to do some leadership development with your managers, look no further than these lists!)
 

Book studies are also a great way to learn; here are 6 simple books that will provide input to help you become a GREAT leader:

Extra support:

Working on listening at the heart of being a great leader?
Here are some blog posts + TED talks to help:

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

In most organizations, your role has the most direct reports, the most key measures on the Scorecard, and – along with the sales team – the most pressure on it when the organization is not meeting financial targets. As a result, mastering the EOS tools and cascading them is really important for you and your team.

Have you cascaded the EOS meeting rhythm to your team?
This includes:

  • Weekly L10
  • Quarterly Planning
  • Annual Planning

If the answer is no and you have been doing EOS for over 18 months, my next question is: Why not?

As your company grows, your role will grow – and probably faster than any other area because you are at the heart of the product/service your company delivers. Your ability to delegate and elevate with your leadership team will allow your team to grow along with you. If you would rather stay in a more hands-on role, that is also great too if that is your unique ability. It takes courage to have that conversation. I have seen it happen twice, and it made everyone happier and more successful.

As we head into annual season for many of you, expect me to ask this question. If you aren’t doing it yet, it is time to start. As always, how can I help?

(PS: If you want to connect with leaders already doing this well, let me know and I will be glad to connect you.)

Extra Support:
I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

The one position that I see the most incredible growth in is the Integrator. It is also the one role that I am sometimes too easy on as an implementer, which I have been working on correcting for the last year.

The two themes you will hear a lot from me are 80% Rock completion and same page meetings. Here are 6 key areas all current or future Integrators need to make sure their team masters (if mastery is not happening, I urge you to look in the mirror first…):

  1. Regular same page meetings with the visionary: You define ‘regular’, but the feedback I get is at least every 2 weeks and weekly in critical times
  2. L10 meetings that are routinely a 9 or 10
  3. 5-5-5 Feedback sessions with the leadership team
  4. LMA checklists: Yes on all items for each leader, especially you!
  5. Your VTO being shared EVERY quarter with everyone
  6. Core documents always updated and accurate, plus constant pressure to be great (VTO, Accountability Chart, Rock sheet/plans, L10 Agenda, and Scorecard)

Your role is important. But remember – the 6 things above don’t have to be done by you alone. Sometimes the Integrator is not great at meetings, so you get someone else to run them. The Scorecard is often owned by the most detailed-oriented (high fact-finder) member on the team, and sharing the VTO is often done by the passionate Visionary.

As you end this year and look to improve in your role next year, look in the mirror and ask yourself if these are being done. If not, commit to making sure it happens.

Learning from Others:
I had a team go from sporadic Rock performance to straight 100%.
The difference?
A new Integrator that created a stronger sense of accountability within the team. The feedback from the team – thank you!

A mentor of mine has taught me that leaders create conditions where accountability can happen. Since learning that I have caught myself saying hold people accountable, and I realize that one you do with people, and one you do to people, so they are very different! We create the conditions with our actions, repeated often.

In the situation I referenced above, the conditions of accountability also came with supportive statements like “How can I help?” Seeing these outcomes, and looking in the mirror myself, has resulted in a personal change of becoming stronger in creating conditions where you feel challenged to be your best. Also, it will always be followed by the next important words: “How can I help?”

Extra Support:

I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

I teach and coach in a leadership development program through a company founded by Paul Doyle, a leader who I both like and respect. It is the one piece of non-EOS work I kept after I ‘burned the boats’ last year, and that is only because I like being around Paul. Hopefully you have a Paul in your circle.

In a recent class, he shared some of the wisdom of doing management by walking around. As a Visionary, your eyes see things differently than the Integrator or the other members of the leadership team, so give yourself a chance to go connect and observe.

Here are four things that Paul Doyle shared with a group of leaders that will help your walks provide a great return on time:

  1. Make the focus on learning, not problem solving (let people fight through their own problems – don’t direct them on how to fix it)
  2. Listen more than you talk
  3. Spread time equally over the whole organization, don’t just go to problem areas
  4. Comment on successes as often as you comment on problems

You know something is broken when people start saying things like, “Oh no, here he/she comes!” The Visionary is most often an owner too, so remember to take the owner hat off, get to know the people, and make sure they know this is your listening time to just check in and learn from the experts – them! The only way to work through the fear this new habit might generate is to just do it well for 6-12 months.

Don’t let fear of not knowing names, hating ‘small talk’, or not wanting to end around on the integrator keep you from spending time in the business with the people that run it each day. If you do it right, you stay connected, the people are inspired, and the learning will help you build a great culture and company.

As always – let me know how I can help if you have some restraining forces that need to be overcome.

Extra support:
If you’re not already taking weekly Me Time, I suggest you enroll in my Me Time for Leaders learning journey. Schedule this weekly time in conjunction with your walk around to allow you quiet time to digest what you learn and make notes to help you later. Find out more about this learning journey here.