EOS®: Especially for Integrators – 1 Nugget

EOS®: Especially for Integrators – 1 Nugget

1 Nugget from the EOS Conference

Your busy, so let me keep this brief and focused. . . . 

Last week I attended the 100% virtual EOS Conference and it was great. More to come next month from the speakers and sessions, but I wanted to share one thing with you. Here is a link to a document called Integrating through a Crisis Checklist that was part of a session delivered by Don Tinney and Kelly Knight (past and current EOS World Wide Integrators). Take a look, and if you want to take a deeper dive on anything just call me and we can talk through it on the phone with my notes handy.

Also – You saw my note to your teams around clarity breaks, so if there is anything I can do to help your teams successfully adopt this practice let me know. In addition, here are the other two role specific notes I sent out this month to help develop your team:

  1. Visionary – 3 Tips for Increasing Your ON The Business Time
  2. Finance / HR – Using Your Fact Finder Unique Ability to Help Your Team

   (tip: I post all of my monthly notes in my blog so I can use them later to support development in my clients)

Make sure you talk with them a little to see if this note triggered any action for them, and if it did please help support them in following through on it.

Here to help ~ Scott

Clarity Breaks!

Clarity Breaks!

#confidence #clarity #focus #gettingbacktoourbestself

I recently had a conversation with a visionary, and I ended it with the question, What else can I do to support you? His response – Anything you could do to encourage our team to continue their clarity breaks™ would be really helpful. He went on to say that they had all started doing them, and while the team was enjoying the new habit and experiencing the value, he worried they would stop.

Instead of getting preachy with you, let me share some feedback from two EOS® leaders I work with.

  1. In his blog post, The Power of the Clarity Break, Mike Kren (Operations – Bizstream) shares his journey from thinking Who has time for that?! to the realization that In the extremely fast-paced and busy world we live in, it is important to take time to relax and refocus no matter what you do for a living. Here is Mike’s full post.
  2. After just starting the clarity break habit as the assignment from our discussion on the LMA tool, Kelly Plawinski (Integrator – Adamy Valuation) shared: Yesterday’s clarity break lead to a breakthrough on something I have been pondering for a while no. Love it!!!

It has been called lots of different things, and if you have investigated mindfulness, been a regular at the practice of yoga or meditation, or read extensively in the self-help section of a bookstore, this is not a new topic. It is also a topic that was recommended by the likes of Stephen Covey and Peter Drucker.

The pushback I get from you most often is that your clarity break is in a pool or on a run. My response is always the same – it only counts if you document some sort of actions after so your thinking time results in increased clarity, confidence, and focus that you feel and the people around you see/experience in your actions. Keep exercising, taking breaks during the day, and days you unplug from the office, but those are not clarity breaks.

As things go fast, and the uncertainty results in you spending lots of time doing the things you don’t like to do (scrounging for cash, being ignored by customers, furloughing or firing team members, etc.) it is easy to get stuck. My passionate plea is to take care of yourself and stay focused, and clarity breaks are designed and endorsed for doing just that. If you need a reminder, take a look at page 25 in your Leadership Team manual or page 73 in How To Be A Great Boss by Gino Wickman and Rene Boer. If you don’t have either of these email me and I will send you copies.

Let me leave you with a great quote to ponder:

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.

Henry Ford


Stay healthy! . . .  and lead from that healthy place. ~ Scott

A few of extra links for continued learning:

  1. A video I made describing my clarity break. Don’t copy me, make it yours!
  2. Blog post: 5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)
  3. NEW: A video from some of my experienced peers – some great tips and learnings! It is called Clarity Breaks in a Crisis, so it is very focused on the conditions you are leading in today.
4 Tips to Boost Courage in Your Leader

4 Tips to Boost Courage in Your Leader

I have a soft spot in my heart for military leaders. I am just beginning General Mattis’ book, Call Sign Chaos, and already I wish he was involved in this whole COVID-19 response. I admire people who seem to carry the weight of leadership around and make it look like a feather. I also know that’s not reality, because each leader also serves in such roles as father, mother, spouse, friend, mentor, aunt, uncle, son, daughter, and neighbor. They are just people, and as people, they have the same fears and need the same support as the rest of us.

We all need to remember that leadership is lonely. It can get especially lonely in a crisis that causes us to have to lead day after day without much of a break. While breaks might come from the work, the real difficult crisis’ don’t give you an emotional break.

Jim Collins introduced us to the Stockdale Paradox in his business classic Good to Great. A survivor of brutal conditions as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Admiral Stockdale shared his secret:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Admiral James Stockdale (Good to Great, p. 85)

Remember your leaders, every day, are summoning the energy to face the brutal facts and retain that deep down hope that allows them to stand in front of you to tell the truth, admit failures, communicate the plans, and tell you what you need to do – all the time trying to show courage and confidence. Some do it better than others, and yet know that are all exhausted by it and have to find a place to recharge.

Here are four things you can do to help provide some much needed support to your leader:

  1. Send them a note: Encouragement and gratitude are two things that nobody ever gets tired of. In working with leaders I often hear stories about the one person that took the time to offer this, because it matters! It is also an emotional boost that they can revisit often because people rarely throw these away.
  2. Focus your faith practice on the them: I had a friend recently ask how he should be praying for me. Admittedly, I stumbled over an answer because I was surprised, and yet it made me dig a little deeper into something that was weighing on me. Whatever your faith practice, focus it on your leaders.
  3. How can I help?: A simple question, and yet it opens the door for a conversation that will make them think and ask for something that leaders in crisis sometimes forget. The other question I love is How can I help you?
  4. Tell them a success story: Being close to leaders in a crisis I hear the issues they are struggling with and the challenges of solving them. One of the questions I often use as an EOS Implementer is What is working?. It requires everyone to stop and think, because our crisis glasses too often just see the problems. By sharing a story of something that is working you help them see progress or give them a measure of the impact their plains are having.
  5. Remind them they are not alone: A handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a pause to look in their eyes and show that soft, empathetic face and simply share, “Remember you have a great team around you that loves you and wants to help you. Together we can do this.”

The truth – we all have a place in helping them recharge, so pick one of the actions above and do it for your leaders.

5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)

5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)

I am not an infectious disease specialist or an economist, but I am confident in predicting that our current challenges will require us to have resilience. The thing I have learned about resilience is you either have it or you have to build it. The only reason I don’t give a third option (not having it) is that I believe we all want to have it, so I am not letting you off on this one!

The good news, resilience is built. The bad news, the process of building it is hard because it is not a lesson that comes from a book but from our own experience.

As I look back at my own blogs, I realized that was a big topic for me in 2011. It was my second full year of operating my own consulting practice and it was my hardest year, both financially and emotionally. A friend of mine who is a pastor once told me that if you listen to sermons of people you can always tell what they struggle with the most because it becomes a theme that shows up often in their sermons. 2011 was my year for growth and pain, and it is obvious because I blogged about it a lot. As I look back, I realize I learned some important lessons through that season of my life. These lessons have become the foundation of a strength in me that has allowed me to see experience the current events in a very different way than 2011. To save you from reading all the posts, here are 5 lessons to help you grow your own resilience:

  1. Resilience can be built: The US military put millions of dollars behind research and a program to help equip leaders with the tools they need to demonstrate resilience in their lives and leadership. The steps are simple, but not necessarily easy. We should all review them and practice them over the coming months. (blog #2 below)
  2. Learn to measure your current state: For me, it became a simple formula: Hope > Fear + Anger + Despair + Frustrations + Worry + Hunger + Mistrust + fill in the blank. (blog #1)
  3. Find a friend: Being alone with a big life challenge is not a good place to stay. Go find a friend. If you see someone experiencing one of life’s top 3 stressful situations (death, divorce, job loss) seek them out. (blog #3)
  4. Schedule recovery time: A secret we all need to learn is finding a way for each of us to reflect and recover along our journey. Resilience is a marathon, not a sprint, so have the courage to carve out this time for yourself. (blog #3 and #4)
  5. Practice transparency: Everyone gets knocked off balance by life. The resilient ones are just skilled at getting back to center. The best thing for everyone, leaders included, is to be transparent about their challenges so people feel safe to admit they need help. Transparent conversations are the key to this. (blog #5)

Starting this journey requires us to reframe our setbacks into opportunities. A friend recently shared some wisdom with me. They have two questions they review several times a week: Why is this a gift to me? What is it offering that I don’t see? I now have both of those questions on my computer screen and a ponder them often. After all, there is no such thing as being too resilient!

Lead well, and from a healthy place!

Here are the posts from 2011 that will help you take a deeper dive into the points above.

  1. The Resilience Formula – for Leaders . . . for Followers      
  2. Resilience – What We Can Learn from the Military
  3. Developing Resilience – 4 Ways to Process the Pain
  4. Silence and Resilience
  5. Resilience – The discussion starts (and continues) with transparency
  6. Resilience – 4 Steps to NOT make it another initiative
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.