Vulnerability as a Choice

Vulnerability as a Choice Brené Brown is an expert on vulnerability and authenticity. When I first watched her TED talks two years ago, I too quickly dismissed her ideas as being too weak for business applications. I was wrong. A conference speaker recently prompted me to take another look. I’m glad I did. The results align with the principles of EOS®.Vulnerability is a choice that empowers leaders to engage employees. It’s a decision to create connection through empathy. It requires the strength to admit mistakes, ask for help, hear others’ opinions, and venture into the unknown. Choosing to be vulnerable starts with a mindset: a willingness to be wrong; to suspend judgment for the time being; and to be comfortable with ambiguity. Those are not easy. Nor is “the how:” Ask honest questions with the intent to understand, not defend ourselvesBe open to the possibility of changeAbsorb new data and revisit decisionsTry new things that might be mistakes Vulnerability doesn’t replace the other attributes of being a strong leader, such as creating a powerful vision or making smart decisions. It’s not either/or. It’s simply one part of our arsenal of... read more

Fiercely Disagree — in a Productive Way

In EOS®, we coach leaders to be “open and honest,” which means there will often be disputes among leaders. Conflict is natural and healthy. There are many standard ground rules about engaging in conflict in a healthy way. Two of my favorite rules are:• Listen to truly understand, not to rebut • Speak from your experience without attributing motive to the other person Less obvious, but equally powerful, is the IDS™ tool from EOS. On a regular basis during a dispute, stop to clarify, “What exactly is the issue here? Where precisely do we disagree?” Then be disciplined to stay on that issue, not get sidetracked by tangents. Especially when emotions run high, they tend to highjack the dialogue. We lose sight of what we’re in conflict about and start to defend positions that are way off target. Stay focused for better... read more

Earn Trust

A recent Harvey Mackay article in the Minneapolis paper shared how to earn the trust of your bosses and co-workers. In fact, it was much more than that. It was a simple, elegant checklist for being intentional as a person, for earning the trust of everyone in your life, business and personal. The list is easy to dismiss as “common sense,” “too simple,” and/or “of course I do these things.” That was my reaction until I did a reality check. It turned out to be a mini wake-up call. Here’s the list: Arrive on time consistently Dress appropriately Introduce yourself effectively Remember names Stay organized Use e-mail professionally Share the credit generously Talk to your boss Volunteer Go above and beyond Don’t give up Network Keep learning I came up short on more than a couple. You might also. Give it some... read more

The Greater Good

In EOS®, one of the questions we ask of leaders is“Do you act for the greater good of the organization vs. your personal best interests?”The quick answer is “Of course I put the company first.” In most cases that’s probably true. However, there are subtle areas that trap leaders into sending unintended messages. Preventing these requires discipline to maintain a true leadership posture and protect your personal brand. Warren Bennis said, “A leader doesn’t just get the message across, he is the message.” Here are four golden rules to prevent your personal feelings from getting in the way: Never be passive aggressive. Deal with conflict in an open and honest way. Take full responsibility for your team’s outcomes, even if it’s not remotely “your fault.” If it’s on your watch, you own it. Turn the other cheek for the sake of staying engaged in a dialogue. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of tit for tat. And perhaps toughest of all, always take the high road. Fighting back is instinctual but usually counterproductive. Employees pay attention to everything. Our word choice, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice all send messages. Be sure they always reflect “the greater... read more

Day In and Day Out

Consistency is the secret weapon of EOS®. The big victories come from incremental actions repeated again and again. The Six Components of the EOS Model™ are disarmingly simple. It’s easy to give lip service to them as just “common sense.” What makes them powerful is common practice: the application of basic, practical tools to make them come to life. Not just for a week or a month or even a year. It’s forever. Only when these tools are embedded in the fabric of a company do they produce lasting results over time. The same is true of leadership. There are no silver bullets for being an effective leader. Justconsistent, disciplined behavior, day in and day out. Simon Sinek drives home the message in a compelling five-minute section of a longer video interview, starting here. Watch it and do a reality check on your own discipline. Consistency is the secret ingredient that effective leaders leverage through... read more

Your Way, My Way, The Better Way

“If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, we’ll use mine,” Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO. Short and sweet. Efficient. Practical. Not necessarily right for the organization. Leaders have opinions and trust their instincts, especially in the absence of data. It’s easy to get in the habit of relying on opinions — notably our own. Digging deep for objective criteria takes more time and effort. The best leaders are committed to data-based decisions: It keeps them grounded in reality vs the chaos of conflicting opinions Using data enhances trust, because employees respect objectivity They understand that their perception of reality is not objective (“We see the world not as it is, but as we are,” Stephen Covey) Relying on facts reduces drama, increases clarity, and drives better results. It’s the harder way, but it’s the better... read more

No Drama

Some people thrive on drama. You know their lines: “Nothing’s working…. Management is clueless…. No one’s as smart as I am.” Passive aggressive behavior’s their norm. They’d rather complain instead of fix things. Leaders are adamant — these are not the employees we want. Nor do we want the chaos drama creates. Great employees don’t want drama either. They want leaders to create a workplace that’s drama-free. A-list players expect work to be done right the first time, without unnecessary hassle. As a leader, how are you doing in the drama department? Can you honestly say: We have a clear vision and share it We don’t tolerate weak performers or toxic employees We know our numbers and don’t make decisions based on politics We solve problems in an efficient and effective manner We are clear about important processes, and everyone follows them We work on the most important things and have highly productive meetings It’s up to leaders to create and sustain the culture employees expect. The power of EOS® is it helps you do just... read more

Updates Kill Meetings

I was surprised to hear my new client had been conducting five general update meetings each month across various departments. They spent 37.5 total hours sharing updates on activities, schedules, and projects! After implementing EOS, they eliminated 100% of those meetings. Why? They were wasting time. Updates are of little value by themselves. The EOS Level 10™ meeting agenda is basically broken into two major sections: sharing information and problem solving. Employees want information, and they want to make things better. Pure and simple. That’s why they love L10 meetings. In the L10, updates are always done against a standard. Are projects on track or off track? Do results match the weekly goal? Did assigned tasks get done, yes or no? What’s new we should know about? That’s it. If everything is on course, we don’t waste time with “general” updates. It’s only when there’s an issue to solve that we dig in.Otherwise, we move on. How much general update meeting time can you eliminate this... read more

Soft Skills are the Hard Skills

As leaders we focus on production and technology — they link directly to the bottom line. The “soft” components often play second fiddle to “making the numbers.” However, the culture of an organization plays an equally important role in sustainable success. Culture is how you maintain market advantage; your competitors can’t steal it. In EOS®, we say you have to be “healthy and smart.” The challenge for leaders is to have the courage to enrich, enhance and preserve company culture. It’s hard to manage culture because it’s less tangible. It’s also riskier and more personally threatening than addressing production, quality and other technical components. Ask yourself: Are you willing to hire for values and train for skills? Or do you entertain candidates who look good on paper but don’t embody your values? Are you willing to confront toxic behavior? Or do you tolerate it because a person has an important skill set? Are you willing to listen more and be a role model for “open and honest”? Do you shut people down, simply by your expression and tone when you choose to? Do you hire, fire, recognize and reward according to values, not just skills? Culture always reflects core values. Pay attention. Stand for what’s... read more


Successful leaders are unafraid to make decisions. This seems simple and intuitive; that’s what leaders do, right? Unfortunately, not always. There are countless excuses for putting off decisions. We don’t want conflict. We’re not clear about what’s really important. We don’t have enough information. It might not be the right decision. All that may be true. However, indecision is not the answer. Right or wrong, making decisions keeps you moving forward. Gino Wickman’s free e-book Decide! has great insights on how to make decisions, including The Ten Commandments of Decision-Making. Along the way, however, we all get stuck from time to time. Then ask yourself: What’s the real issue preventing me from making a decision? Underneath all the excuses, what’s really going on? What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen from making a wrong decision, and what are the odds that it will? A mistake isn’t the end of the world. Especially when you know you can pivot. Who could you bring into the decision-making process? If you’re mired in “head trash,” another perspective can clear the way for action. Somebody else said it best. “Just do... read more

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