By David Bowman
Almost all new clients beginning their journey are taking a leap of faith with the hope that EOS® will help them to actualize their already successful organization’s true potential.
In order to reach this potential, EOS requires each individual in a leadership team to develop the skill of being totally “Open and Honest” with themselves. Because we all have blind spots in our personalities, this also requires one to surround themselves with people who they find credible. These credible people will point out when one is self-protecting through delusion, which is simply our human nature. Apart from anything else, Open and Honest is an expression of authenticity and integrity, which are essential foundations for true collaboration. As a leadership team member, one must strive to be that credible source to others by demonstrating the vulnerability of being open and honest in oneself.
Open and Honest communication leads more quickly to a mutual understanding and respect for a difference in views, interests, and needs. Where forgiveness or an apology is sought, openness and honesty are a must.
Simply put, being Open and Honest builds a sense of self-worth. It is about being moral and truthful to yourself and with others.
Getting to Open and Honest in Your Company
This is a tall order, even in our most trusted relationships, so I thought it might be helpful to walk through the stages that I see in working with clients from the beginning of their journey to when they are truly optimizing their true potential.
- Putting on Airs – For most, the beginning of exploring EOS is based on a handful of dissatisfiers of the status-quo, but the biggest one is an owner or CEO feeling like they’re on an island. This owner or CEO may feel like they have no one or at best, one or two leaders that they truly count on, but the leadership team is certainly not a “team of equals.”
This doesn’t mean that there is a lack of collegiality or even a pleasant working relationship or even a sense of getting the most out of people given their limitations. But, just under the surface, trust, accountability, and transparency breaks down under the slightest bit of pressure and leaves one with a frustrated feeling of “they don’t get it.”
- “Doing” Different – We start the journey with a variety of issues and histories of the mix of team dynamics. Then, we begin to focus on developing a stage for confronting these dynamics through tools and exercises that begin to define “the greater good” for the organization. The idea is not to work on team dynamics as if one could pull it out as a concept and then put it back into the operation and have it be fixed. More to the point is to get everyone “doing” differently by creating an Accountability Chart, among other tools, that gets the team to layout the correct structure for the organization based on the critical work that must receive high levels of ultimate accountability in order to be achieved. This requires the team members to get outside themselves and analyze the needs of the organization objectively, though often they can’t get over their historical assumptions and veneers. In short, they duplicate what they’ve always done.
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- Coming to Grips with Open and Honest – The next stage occurs because of the tools and disciplines created by the Meeting Pulse™ create a hyper-focus on performance. By being extremely intentional about what the team wants to accomplish and laying out everyone’s contributions and misses, the number of variables introduced in the complexity of human dynamics is reduced to two. Either what we thought we wanted is not really what we want, and therefore we need to change the plan, or there is a gap in the execution, and we need to change one or more people’s understanding of the level of needed performance. This can be a very subtle evolution of individuals and the team, creating a better understanding of what’s needed, which leads to shedding ineffective work and replacing that work with more aligned and increasingly impactful contributions.
This can also be a very explosive time in which individuals and teams decide that they can’t perform to the level required to create a team of equals. This means they either transition to a role better suited to them within the organization, or they need to transition outside of the organization. Life is too short to be in a role over one’s head (that’s professional misery).
The length of time a team or individual stays in stage 3 is directly linked to the progress of becoming truly Open and Honest in pointing out ANYTHING in the way of getting what you want from the organization. A professional EOS Implementer® is often required to help coach through this. If one stays in this stage too long, it’s an indication that what one says they want analytically is not as important as the emotional/subjective reasons for why one is a leader in an organization. This often has to do with issues like validation, energy level required, conflict-avoidance at a core emotional level, ego, etc.
Either through evolution or revolution, progress must be made in this stage in order to change from faking Open and Honest to making it. A caveat: the longer it takes, the more painful personally and organizationally.
- Maximizing – This stage is characterized by a deep understanding of the greater good, and the reality that people outgrow seats and seats outgrow people. The extent that each leader is cognizant that they need to “up their game” on an ongoing basis in order to meet the increasingly higher performance of the organization. As a team, one is stronger, faster, and smarter every single quarter and year, and it should be a challenge to meet the higher expectations. This creates two personal issues and multiple organizational issues.
The personal issues focus on a self-understanding that the challenge is invigorating and self-fulfilling, therefore increasing one’s overall life satisfaction. When there is a team of equals all operating in such an aligned manner, there is no stopping an organization.
Just as healthy, is a recognition that on a sustained basis, the role has become too much and is beginning to detract from one’s life satisfaction. This is generally determined over a long period of time, and there are tools within EOS to “load balance” through regular Clarity Breaks™ and Delegate and Elevate™ exercises. But in the end, each person has to decide when too much is just TOO MUCH.
The organizational issues are centered on being good team members to each other, helping people recognize when they’re “hitting their ceiling,” pointing out blind spots, and helping reframe things in a more healthy and manageable way. It’s the part of Open and Honest where, because of the credibility through the continual transparent sharing of one’s own challenges, we are able to truly be good to each other and to help each other through challenges.
On an organizational basis, analyzing when the seat is no longer challenging to people and either it needs to be redefined, or someone with a lesser experience level can be given the opportunity to challenge themselves in a new role. Succession planning becomes a logical benefit in that one can predict ahead how to tweak seats so that talented people stay in the organization because it’s easy to see how increased skill levels are being developed. Most succession plans break due to a lack of openness and honesty in the organization. Everyone has their own agendas, and succession is looked at more politically than “the best interest of the organization.”
As I stated at the beginning, almost all new clients beginning their journey are taking a leap of faith with their successful organization with the hope that EOS will help them to actualize their true potential. Working through Open and Honest is the ultimate tool unlocking your true potential as a human and as an organization.