The First Step to Building a Healthy Leadership Team

As many entrepreneurs now know, Certified EOS Implementers begin every session by restating our expectations for the day. Every single time we do that – to date nearly 1,500 times with the leadership teams of more than 200 entrepreneurial companies – we’ve asked each member of the team to be “Open and Honest” with us, and with one another. As simple and reasonable as that request might sound, complying with it is difficult, even for the best leaders in the most successful businesses.

Why?

From my vantage point, it’s mostly fear. And however well-founded your fears are, they must be overcome before you and the other leaders in your organization can become a truly healthy leadership team. Put simply, the very best leadership teams always say what’s on their mind. Not just to their spouses or behind closed doors to a someone in the organization that has become a confidante – those behaviors might help a leader feel better personally but they don’t help the business. In fact, many times those festering issues and back-channel discussions can eventually destroy your leadership team and your organization.

Great entrepreneurial leaders get ideas, problems and frustrations out of their heads and onto the table so the team can deal with them together. To be sure,
sometimes this heightened sense of openness starts a very animated discussion, but – as long as everyone stays focused on the greater good of the organization and avoids getting personal – healthy, passionate conflict is often the key to moving your team and your business forward.

Just yesterday I spent the day with a leadership team that I’ve been working with for some time, and when the day began they were all frustrated. They’d spent the better part of a year mastering EOS tools and making cosmetic changes to their business. Some of those changes had been valuable, but the leaders had been avoiding some deep-seated personal frustrations that had been festering for more than 15 years. I’d been trying to bring those issues to the surface in prior sessions to no avail. Ironically, it was the group’s collective frustration that helped us dig deeper and get everyone’s issues out on the table. It was definitely awkward and even painful at times. But it led to a rich, heartfelt dialog, deep introspection, a few key decisions and a real commitment from each member of the leadership team to get better at something that would help the business. Provided they keep those commitments, it was a transformational day. And it started with “open and honest.”

The next time you leave a team meeting frustrated and are tempted to “vent,” think twice about doing that with a friend, family member or colleague. Next time, try “open and honest” on for size. Share your worries and frustrations with your whole team, and work with them to resolve the issue forever. You’ll be glad you did, and your company will be better for it.

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