One-on-ones: Yes or No?

One-on-ones: Yes or No?

In EOS – One-on-ones . . . Yes or No?

I have been getting this question lately, and so I want to answer it for all.

First, my early clients will attest that I was a pro one-on-one and EOS® person. After implementing EOS® with 30+ clients I have learned a few things:

  1. The most important time for interaction and feedback between leader/manager and team members are:
    1. Weekly connect points (L10 or set time with team)
    2. Quarterly 5-5-5™ (feedback / check-in conversation)
    3. Regular (never missed) same-page meetings between Visionary/Integrator
  2. Too often one-on-ones are used because team members don’t want to bring up issues in the L10.

If you are currently doing them and want to keep doing them, here are three tips to make sure they are having a positive impact on team health (building capacity for honesty, vulnerability-based trust, and teamwork) and alignment.

3 tips for keeping one-on-ones from derailing team health and making the Integrators job harder than it should be:

  1. Any issue brought up that involves teamwork with a peer should either: 1) go to the L10 Issues list, or 2) become a To Do to take the issue directly to the person who can help solve it.  If it is a conflict that needs the Integrator to be involved to solve it, then make it a Personal Issues Solving Session™ (see toolbox in your LT manual). In a healthy team this should almost never happen.
  2. Agenda should reflect what the team member needs. Just like the 5-5-5, the individual and not the leader should own the agenda.
  3. Objective should be to work to a point where these get less frequent or end altogether.

Situations where one-on-ones have been used effectively by EOS leaders I have worked with:

  1. New team member: having them weekly/bi-weekly for 3 to 6 months helps keep their onboarding plan (you all have one, right?) on-track and deals with any issues more quickly.
  2. Struggling leaders: more frequent check-ins for coaching and support helps leaders through a difficult situation, which is sometimes warranted.
  3. New leader: if you are a new leader to the team, these might be an effective way for your team to educate you on what they do, the decisions they face, and even gets you out to tour their operation on a regular basis for a while to learn the business.

I have come to see one-on-ones as not needed if all of the other EOS tools and habits are in place. If you do one-on-ones and want to come to an organizational agreement on when/how they will be used, put it on the IDS list and solve it at an L10 or an upcoming quarterly/annual.
Whatever you do, remember One Team, One Voice – so move together on whatever you decide.

Lead well! ~ Scott

EOS Integrators: Everyone should be in a great weekly meeting

EOS Integrators: Everyone should be in a great weekly meeting

Special topic for EOS Integrators

In recent meetings with a few clients—in one case doing a lunch and learn with some key managers around the L10 Meeting™—I have realized that a key learning has been missed. The concept of cascading L10 meetings has transformed into a belief that everyone has to be in an L10. In some cases, even every meeting must be an L10.

Here are the basics, and I go back to the Organizational Check-up that we review at every annual:

               Question 13: Everyone is engaged in regular weekly meetings.

The concept is that we use great meetings to keep everyone connected to the changing priorities of the business and provide an opportunity for messages and issues to be quickly cascaded up and down your accountability chart.

Some meetings will not fit the L10 format and that is okay, just review the points made in your Off-Line Meeting Track tool and make sure that it is still designed to be a great meeting for all attending.

If I can ever be a resource for your team please let me know – I love the interaction and it helps me hear what is working and not working in helping the leadership team achieve EOS Mastery.

Lead well . . . . ~ Scott
For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact on the Business AND Decrease Your Frustrations

You sit in the visionary seat because of your unique ability to see big trends, solve big problems, build/maintain important relationships, and generate ideas that will help your business get to the next level.

Lately I seem to be having conversations with visionaries that are seeing EOS® as a system that restricts their access and voice in the business. That is not the intent of EOS and of the accountability chart that created a much needed structure in your organization. Here are two key truths:

  1. Your opinion moves people when they hear it: I heard a story of a financial executive touring a trading desk one day when he made kind of an off-handed comment about gold looking interesting. When he revisited the area a week later he noticed the large positions they had taken up in gold. When he asked about the reasons for the shift, the team responded that they were just “following his advice.” A single comment had moved hundreds of millions of dollars! A leaders words move people, so choose them wisely.
  2. The Integrator – Visionary relationship is critical to your business: The reason Rocket Fuel was written was to equip you to do that. In the opening paragraph it says, “You will learn to utilize this partnership the right way to free yourself up, maximize your potential, and achieve everything you want from your business.”

Also recognize that all your ideas are not great, and some are gold and need to be done. Here are two things that will help you leverage your unique abilities and have a big impact on your business:

  1. Same page meeting with your Integrator: This is a critical time to prioritize your ideas, support each other, and IDS big topics that need to be supported by both of you before they hit the business. Follow the guidelines in Rocket Fuel to set this up, and call me if I can help refine this time for the two of you.
  2. Define the core processes that most impact your work: Generally it is either the sales or product development process that the Visionary spends the most time in. By defining the process and what parts or steps you will be the owner, it frees you up to be involved in the business without having to worry about the day to day follow through. Remember the story of the financial leader? Your voice just shared without the context of a process will most likely result in priorities being shifted without debate, and ultimately it will negatively impact the clarity and focus of the team.

Don’t stop being you because the strengths you possess are needed by the business. The lesson we all have to learn is that strengths overused become weaknesses, so put in the work to build up the relationship with your Integrator and refine the processes that will help your ideas get vetted and gain traction that you can see without having to be there every moment.Lead well . . . . ~ Scott

The 2021 EOS Conference in Houston is still open. Might be a good retreat to spend time ON the business and network with other visionaries.  Here is the link if you want to check it out.

IDS Like a Rock Star

IDS Like a Rock Star

Problem solving as a leadership team is the one of the most important skills you can build because the organization needs you to do it so the issues that get identified during your EOS® journey get solved. It is also critical as you cascade your L10 meetings that you facilitate it well to help all your people master the skill of IDS.

The reality, I see some teams do this really well, and yet I see others struggle with this. At my recent quarterly with all my EOS peers, Mike Paton did a deep dive on IDS that I wanted to review with you. Here are some key tips.

  1. Core Activity #1: Do the L10 Meeting Well –  Remember, the basic structure of the L10 with a scorecard, rock, people headlines, and To Do review should generate a strong issues list each day, including the brainstorm before IDS where the team bring other issues to consider. If this is not happening regularly the team needs to step up.
  2. Core Activity #2: Prioritize your issues to identify your top 3 first – Start with one, and don’t move on to #2 until the question is asked of the person that brought up the issue: Are we solved on this issue? and the next steps (usually a To Do) is documented).

Here are some tips from Mike Paton (past Visionary at EOS)

  1. Great IDS is not: 1) like a suggestion box in a lunchroom – throw a bunch of ideas in there and then never talk about them  2) A shoot the messenger activity – in a culture of courage people bring up tough things, stay to contribute to IDS, and work to solve the issue. Do you see that?
  2. Identify Best Practice #1: Ask lots of questions in I to get to the real issue – After the person bringing the issue up states the root cause of the issue in a single sentence, use these questions to drill down to the root cause:
    1. What is the REAL issue?
    1. I hear you saying the problem, what is the root cause?
    1. Can you restate that in a single sentence that focuses on the real issue?
    1. Tell me a little more about that?
    1. Could you unpack that a little more for us?
  3. Identify Best Practice #2: Use the EOS mode – The root cause of almost every issue is weakness in one of the core components of EOS. Go to the EOS model and ask: Is the root cause a weakness in the  Vision component? The People component? The Data component? The Issues component? The Process component? The Traction component? Once you get an answer go back to #2 and dig to the root cause. (I am having a local shop make a printed copy of a dry erase board that will have the model on it. if you want one email me.)
  4. Identify Best Practice #3: Be visual – Write all the Issue statement on a board. It is that simple and will help your teams focus on the root cause.

Here are some other tips:

  • Discuss: If it is going too long you are either 1) Not solving the real issue or 2) Not being open or honest 3) Repeating opinions/politicking  4) On a tangent (say Tangent Alert!)
  • Discuss: Some humorous statements to keep statements focuses: Your plane is running low on fuel so we need to land it.  Thank you Governor (their name), but you are not answering the question we are trying to answer.
  • Solve: Based on our accountability chart – who should know the answer? Look to that person to summarize the solution or next steps based on the discussion.
  • Stalling for more info: When people are asking for more info 90% of the time they are just stalling. Go to the staller, ask specifically what info they need, and ask if they would be willing to go get it. Make it a To Do if you have time, or if a decision needs to be made the Integrator is the tie breaker.

As you cascade your L10’s to your teams, remember to work hard to refine their skills in IDS. Teach, coach, and facilitate to the model I presented above. One thing I realized from Paton’s presentation is that I need to tighten up my own skills in our quarterlies so that you see an example of great IDS facilitation as you challenge yourself to grow in that area.

As always, if you want me to attend an L10 let me know. Another best practice is to have an outside leader attend your L10 to give you feedback, and maybe help you facilitate some of your IDS topics to strengthen this skill.

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.

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 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

Learn how to use the Team Member Fact Sheet

"Trust is a gift. 

Great leaders learn it, give it,

and earn it each day."

~ Scott Patchin


Read tips for using it below.


EOS® for Everyone: “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Albert Einstein famously said this, and it is particularly meaningful for the message I want to pass on to EOS leaders. Your #1 goal is learning.

The target market leader that thrives in EOS is entrepreneurial, growth minded, and open minded. Growth minded is simply someone who wants to be their best, and becoming their best means they are hungry for learning. A key part of this is demonstrating vulnerability-based trust by acknowledging when you don’t know something.

To be open and honest with you – I have not been great about pushing the reading list as part of implementing EOS. My mental excuse is that I see you being so busy that I have held back. But reflecting on this decision, I have let some of you who are not hungry enough to ‘be your best’ off the hook and for those of you who are hungry to learn, I have not helped you with key books that will deepen your knowledge of and skill in using the key EOS tools. As I take on new clients, that is no longer the case!

Here are the books that allow you to take a deeper dive into key EOS topic areas:

I also have some resources specifically around delegation, career development, overcoming loss, managing negative talk (in your head), managing conflict, effective communication, and lean thinking. Please contact me if you have a learning need.

I have watched with great joy the hunger for learning how to lead to growth which has allowed leaders to increase their own capacity (GWC) in their role to meet the needs of a growing organization.

I have also seen the effects of just working hard and not focusing on increasing knowledge and skills through learning. The impact of that is more subtle, but the result is leadership in a seat that becomes less proactive and more reactive.

One of the EOS values is Grow or Die, and I am constantly challenged by an amazing group of people to do this – you. My ability to be effective in my role requires me to get smarter faster so that I can effectively assist in handling some difficult situations. It is why I get on a call with 24-36 implementers every Monday to gather/share wisdom, why I read, and why I continue to do some non-EOS work to gather experience that makes me more effective for you.

Are you purposefully growing or stagnating?

Here are three things you can do today to start growing:

  1. Read How To Be A Great Boss again and commit to getting to all Yes answers.
  2. Start reading one list from the book and commit to completing the reading list this year.
  3. Set up a 30-60 minute call with me and let’s customize a plan based on where you are and where you want to go.