Confessions of a Lion Tamer

When you spend enough days in session with clients, you start to feel like you’ve seen and heard it all. I’ve broken up primal shouting matches, heard way too many affair accusations and admissions, and witnessed buckets of spilled tears. These situations can feel like I’ve stepped into the big top at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, not a run-of-the-mill quarterly session. These are my confessions of a lion tamer as part of my role as an Expert EOS Implementer™.

Clash of the Titans

It’s safe to say that leadership teams include some pretty strong personalities, particularly the Visionaries. These big guys and gals in the organization are typically assertive and don’t back down from opposition. In the past, that’s worked in their favor because they’ve gotten this far, right?

Each lion/lioness has become accustomed to getting their way using a variety of (sometimes unhealthy) tactics.

They may pound fists, wage psychological warfare through gossip, or display bizarre passive-aggressive maneuvers. Some have learned the art of the marathon filibuster, lulling their teams into submission by processing one issue for hours. Most have perfected using these tactics since childhood.

Yet, with very few exceptions, these titans have all wanted the best things for their organizations. They just haven’t figured out how to get on the same page with the rest of the team.

Nerves of Steel

Things get heated when everyone brings a lot of passion to the table. So I’ve had to get really good at channeling that passion for the greater good of the organization.

As a less experienced EOS Implementer®, I didn’t feel as equipped to deal with some of these antics when they arose. Now my blood pressure barely registers a change in the middle of a heated debate among a leadership team. I just walk to the door of my session room and knowingly nod my head. After which, I tell the leaders who’ve just locked horns that my neighbors are complaining about their shouting match. (Confession: My neighbors have never complained about the noise.)

I’ve learned how to calmly move through quarterly sessions while compartmentalizing eight straight hours of intermittent streaming tears (no exaggeration). When I see it, I call out unproductive behavior, explaining the importance of leaders communicating openly and honestly.

And if all else fails, I feel comfortable ending a session. I tell leaders we won’t continue like this. I don’t want to, and neither does the rest of the team. I suggest they take a walk to calm down or reschedule for when cooler heads can prevail.

I Can’t Make You

Want to know the best and worst part of my job as an EOS Implementer? I can’t make anyone do anything. I’m there to facilitate, not call the shots. I don’t get to choose when a leadership team makes a decision. (Confession: This sometimes drives me bananas whenever the answer seems crystal clear.)

I can point out what I see going on, but I can’t take a team anywhere they don’t want to go. I can travel the road with them and draw attention to the signposts, but I don’t give them any definitive solutions. Only the leadership team can pick the path they ultimately take.

And I love that I don’t have to have all the answers. However, if my clients get stuck in processing mode, I’m there to offer insights into EOS® basics.

Sometimes I share what EOS teaches or offer examples of what other teams have done. But only the organization’s leaders can decide for themselves what course of action they take for any given scenario.

Honestly, many of these clients would never get far on their journeys to Running on EOS™ on their own. And so, my last confession: Serving as a guide to my clients is the most gratifying part of my role as an EOS Implementer.

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