Are You All In?

The Six Key Components™ and the process of EOS® make it a balanced, sustainable and powerful system. Sometimes people want to pick and choose. For example, they want to use Rocks and the Level 10 Meeting™ because they seem easy. To succeed, however, you have to be “all in.” You need to take the good with the bad. You need to be willing to do the hard work over the long haul. It’s not quick, and it’s not easy. It’s about being balanced and principled. Great leaders knows this. Mahatma Gandhi’s prescription for being “all in” is to avoid: Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience Knowledge without Character Commerce without Morality Science without Humanity Worship without Sacrifice Politics without Principle What do you, as a leader, want to... read more

Teach ‘Em to Hustle

EOS companies come in many sizes and shapes. In my experience, a common ingredient of successful EOS companies and their leaders is a heightened sense of urgency. They want better results right now. They are action oriented. Harvey Mackay calls it “hustle” in his Star Tribune column this week. It’s a great read. Mackay points out that “…it doesn’t take special ability to hustle, just a burning desire to get ahead.” Many of my clients translate that sentiment into a Core Value, using words like “urgency,” “get it done” and “make it happen.” Hustle is energy-producing. Customers feel it when they do business with you, and they respond with greater loyalty. Employees feel it in the culture of the company, and it’s infectious. It generates enthusiasm. Like any value, “hustle” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To avoid wasting time and energy, it requires a focus on the right opportunities and disciplined action, both of which are integral to EOS. How does your company score on the hustle... read more

End It, Change It, or Live With It

End It, Change It, or Live With It Leaders face difficult people decisions. In EOS, we say “Right People, Right Seats.” Employees must live our values and do their jobs. But leaders often resist making difficult employee decisions. The advice we give is: “End it, Change it, or Live with it.” Don’t waste time and energy having the same conversation over and over. Make a decision. Typically, reassigning or terminating the employee is the right business decision. That’s not always feasible, especially in family businesses. When you’re considering “Living with it,” think carefully about the impact on other employees.They have to put up with a sub-performer, create work-arounds, compensate for lost productivity, and deal with the emotional drain of toxic behavior. If you have to “Live with it”: Enforce performance expectations with the employee. Often employees make right decisions all by themselves. Communicate your rationale to key stakeholders. Minimize the consequences of the decision. Keep the situation on your radar (Issues List) because circumstances change. Stop complaining about it. You stand for what you tolerate. Choose... read more

What’s the Story – I Just Wanna Know

Employees perform best when they know what is expected and where they stand relative to expectations. When and how should you provide feedback? In EOS, we use scheduled quarterly conversations. Spontaneous feedback in the moment further ensures employee engagement. Here are four best practices to make feedback conversations easier and more effective. Expectations. Are expectations crystal clear – both ways? Preparation. Do you rehearse difficult conversations? Choosing the right words requires you say them out loud in the mirror. Imagine you are receiving the feedback. How does it come across? Details. Do you have a system to keep notes on specific examples? Both good and bad? It’s easy to forget the details. Let the employee know exactly what was exemplary or deficient. Venue. Do you praise in public, critique in private? Always be looking for opportunities to give honest feedback but be sure the venue is appropriate. It takes attention and discipline to consistently stay in touch with employees. The payoff is worth... read more

The Greater Good

Should you commit to a bad team decision? Think about it. In EOS, we say One Vision, One Voice, One Team. Inside the room, you voice your opinion about an issue, along with everyone else. Disagreement is healthy. Open and honest. Outside the room, leaders have to speak with one voice about a decision. The consequences of a bad decision are far less than the turmoil caused with leaders disagree publicly and undermine each other. EOS colleague Jim Coyle gave great insight in a recent blog. Acting for the greater good means subjugating your personal feelings and well-being long enough to make a wise decision. It also means sacrificing popularity with courage to speak up when it would be a lot easier and safer to be silent, let things slide, and go with the flow. How to act for the greater good: Pause, take a breath, and assess the situation. Be honest with yourself. What are the consequences of my action? Will it strengthen or weaken the team? Is it consistent with our values? Will it stand the test of time? The answer is yes. Commit to a bad decision for the greater... read more


As leaders, we trust our instincts. We have experience. We’ve been successful. Our instincts are a big part of our success. But our intuition is sometimes off. When should you be counterintuitive instead? When you absolutely know you’re right, ask questions first. No one plays with a full deck. Instead of obsessing over weaknesses, build on strengths. Don’t dwell on shortcomings. You’ll get more productivity from motivating. Break a bad cycle. Under stress, we counterpunch. Unfortunately, we encourage bad behavior by engaging in it ourselves. Break the cycle. Do a reality check when you’re stuck. Overused skills become weaknesses. For example, decisive devolves to controlling; excessive fact-finding delays decisions. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent. Catch yourself when your instincts say “I don’t have time to take a Clarity Break, to complete my Rocks, to build relationships, to coach, to delegate…” Remember the objectives behind your checklists. It’s about being effective, not just efficient. Our instincts are powerful. Know how to ignore... read more

Just in Case

We all accumulate things. Many of them reflect what I call the “Just in Case” syndrome. I’ll keep these old files just in case I need them later. That pile of books to read “one day.” Implementing some new productivity software. Those things we wish we could get done, but somehow never do. You have your own examples. They’re usually “important” but not “urgent” (Steven Covey’s distinction in Seven Habits). We make lists, collect documents, and stack them on the corner of our desk. When the stack gets too big, we put it in a box. Then we add another box. Eventually we throw them all out. The reality is “Just in Case” never happens. So how do we stop the cycle? Have the discipline to say “no” to those things that are only “nice to do,” i.e., not important. Manage an iron-clad “Issues List,” which you consistently monitor, prioritize, and weed out. Schedule time for important but not urgent activities Often that appointment is just with yourself. The key is to treat it like any other important meeting – don’t blow it off. Have a disciplined approach to dealing with issues. In EOS, we call this IDS. I just threw away three boxes. It was painful for a second, then energizing. Try... read more

Simple Wins

Simple Wins We live in a complex world. As leaders, we’ve learned to live with chaos, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Our challenge is to reduce complexity, break down everything to its simplest form. In EOS, it’s one of the five attributes of leaders needed to break through ceilings. In her book, Why Simple Wins, Lisa Bodell offers practical approaches on driving simplicity. She also points out some uncomfortable tendencies many of us have. We resist the need to simplify, because it’s easier not to.More importantly, we have an emotional need to keep things complex. I think she’s right. In my experience, we hide behind complexity to protect ourselves. We “Reply All” just to be safe or to let everyone know we’ve responded. We attend unnecessary meetings to be sure we’re not left out. We form committees vs. taking ownership of a problem and simply making the decision. All of these things add unnecessary complexity. When we simplify things, our lives get easier. It’s good for our companies and good for... read more

Easy to Do. Easier Not To.

Last summer someone introduced me to a different time management system. It was straightforward and made a lot of sense. Months later, I haven’t done anything with it. “Easy to do. Easier not to.” So says Weldon Long. Most change has 3 components: vision, action and pain. In EOS, the vision is for a company to achieve 80% success in all Six Key Components. The action is the EOS Proven Process™ and tools. But what drives leaders to action is the pain. It’s always easier to NOT do anything. Like the frog in a pan of water, we tolerate pain until it’s too late. The key is to anticipate future consequences rather than simply tolerate current pain. Do you anticipate consequences and act now — or do you tolerate current pain and delay action? It’s always easier to do nothing, but hope is not a strategy. By the way, if you say you don’t know how to act now, EOS delivers the... read more

Don’t Take this Personally

Don’t Take This Personally Makes you want to cringe, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever follows that opening, you’re going to take it personally. No exceptions. That’s human nature. We are, after all, “persons.” A hallmark of EOS is clear, honest communication, especially between boss and subordinate. For many leaders and managers, that’s easier said than done. It’s also critical to a healthy relationship. Three suggestions to help: Never say, “Don’t take this personally.” It is personal, and it should be. Nothing is wrong with that. Simply be aware that it is. Annual reviews are painful for everyone, and research proves they’re not effective.Quit doing them. Have quarterly conversations about important topics instead. Expect to get feedback you don’t want to hear. If you want your subordinates to be open to feedback, you must be as well. This is also your opportunity to hear the secrets that you otherwise would not. There are two must-read books on this topic: How to be a Great Boss by Wickman and Boer. It’s a roadmap on how to be exactly that. Thanks for the Feedback by Stone and Heen. It’s “The science and art of receiving feedback well, even when it’s off-base, unfair, poorly delivered, and frankly, you’re not in the mood.” Happy... read more

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