I was doing a number of Annual Planning Sessions and Quarterly meetings over the winter and spring. In these meetings, we discuss lessons learned. One thing that has become clear is that COVID pressure-tested leaders, team members, teams, client relationships, and many other aspects of running a business. Not one of my teams used this type of growth-oriented language when describing their experience, though. Instead they said things like:
“The challenges of this year showed our true colors.”
“Funny, the team members that didn’t want to come back were the ones we weren’t sad to lose.”
“Honestly, Jim, I didn’t know what the heck to do at first.”

I think it’s fair to say that most companies were pressure-tested this year. What were the results of your test?
Through these reflective conversations, and many others with business leaders who aren’t EOS® clients, I have observed a mixture of results. Most interesting was the contrast in the results between the two groups: EOS companies and non-EOS companies.
At the beginning, back in March 2020, the two groups looked quite similar. There were all types of reactions, from disbelief to utter confusion and bewilderment. I often heard these words: “What the heck are we going to do?” Quickly though, the differences between the two groups started to become more apparent. The non-EOS clients had the same diverse reactions, but many of them were not productive. Sadly, some played ostrich at first and buried their heads. They were scared, and rightfully so. The problem was that they let that fear dictate their actions, or in many cases, their inaction. Then there were the groups on the opposite side of the spectrum; they didn’t take the threat seriously. “No big deal; this won’t affect us!” was the mantra.
Interestingly enough, both these groups seemed to end up with the same set of problems due to their responses. First, they didn’t adjust their sales strategies; they continued to produce and serve the way they always had. Or (and this is the issue that seemed to cause the most problems), they communicated very little, if at all, with their teams. These companies were pressure-tested and came out wanting.
The EOS companies were tested in the same ways, but the best ones, after the initial shock of shutdown, jumped in and worked through (IDS™ed) each and every issue. This meant many had multiple Level-10 Meetings™ a week, where they really dug in and determined what they had to do to get through that day or that week. They were constantly communicating with their teams, doing Weekly State of the Company (WSOC) discussions, daily standup huddles, or video messages to keep their teams informed. They figured out strategies for multiple scenarios. As one of my teams said, “We used the concept of levers to talk about elements that we would need to ‘pull’ if things got better or worse, and then communicated those well before they became a reality.” This worked favorably, as the decisions were not based on emotional reactions at that point—they were just “What ifs?”.
Make no mistake about it, every one of my teams running on EOS also found cracks as a result of their tests, but they shored them up quickly and did what they had to do to stay true to the company, their core values, and the cohesiveness of their teams. Now, over a year after this started, I can say I am very proud of the teams I work with. I am proud to be their EOS Implementer®. They lived up to one of my favorite phrases: “They are the leaders their company and people deserve.”