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
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?
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:
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.
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:
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.
Volunteer to come to any L10 to help a team IDS a topic that needs financial input.
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.
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?
Have a few rules
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.
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:
You genuinely care about your people
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?
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:
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.
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…):
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
L10 meetings that are routinely a 9 or 10
5-5-5 Feedback sessions with the leadership team
LMA checklists: Yes on all items for each leader, especially you!
Your VTO being shared EVERY quarter with everyone
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.
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?”
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.
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:
Make the focus on learning, not problem solving (let people fight through their own problems – don’t direct them on how to fix it)
Listen more than you talk
Spread time equally over the whole organization, don’t just go to problem areas
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.
Lots of companies are talking about retention strategies for their people. As an EOS company, here is a case for why doing EOS really well and cascading it is the best strategy for keeping your people.
The Gallup organization came up with 12 questions that assessed an organization’s strengths in customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, and employee turnover. The four questions they ask that statistically tie to turnover are: Q1 – I know what is expected of me at work Q2 – I have the tools I need to do my job Q3 – I have an opportunity to do what I do best Q5 – Someone at work cares about me as a person (Here are all twelve questions)
If improving retention/engagement is a goal for 2020, here is how the EOS rhythms will help:
Q1 – Expectations
Q2 – Needed Tools
Q3 – What I do best
Q5 – Cares about me
Quarterly VTO sharing
The power of cascading these tools is that, if done well, it becomes a powerful tool to keep your entire team engaged in their work and contributing at a high level.
This is a note especially for those in the Finance seat.
Remember when we did the cash flow drivers tool?
In my experience, half of my teams roll their eyes like they don’t need it. I can only think of one team who told me there was no/little value in the activity.
My questions to you:
What is the financial literacy of your leaders?
What do you do every year and/or with every new hire to continue to build it?
In a past role, I spent five months of my life taking leadership teams through a financial literacy/cash flow activity. It was an 8-hour class, averaging 15 people per class, and I trained over 1,500 people across the US and Mexico. I will never forget when a plant manager told me, in an excited voice, that he finally understood EBITDA! The irony was that was a key metric in his bonus, and he did not really understand it. That experience taught me never to assume financial literacy and how it is such critical knowledge for the front-line leaders to possess so they can understand the CFO and make great business decisions.
Question for 2020: How are you assessing/building financial literacy in your leaders?
I encourage you to do the 8 cash flow drivers with your leaders and find other ways to repeat that learning event in creative ways. I would be glad to help co-facilitate it if that would help, and I have a few other ideas that I have seen work if you are interested.
The two resources I love around financial literacy are What The CEO Wants You To Know by Ram Charan and the HBR article – Cash Management Practices in Small Companies. Email me if you want a copy of either.