Partnership Rules of the Game™

“What, I can be fired?!” I’ve heard this from owners more times than I can count. However, I’ve only heard it once when working with my Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS®) clients. If someone asks this question in a session, we quickly look at the Partnership Rules of the Game.

How Do the Partnership Rules of the Game Work?

The Partnership Rules of the Game redefine how owners interact with their leadership team and the entire organization. They define when they act as the owner working on the business versus as an employee working in the business.

When Owners Work On the Business

When an owner works on the business, they lead The Meeting Pulse™ for the organization. This includes calling formal board meetings and Same Page Meetings™. Owners have a duty to offer straight communications without vague expectations.

At the same time, owners also need to participate 50/50 in dialogues with their leadership team. They listen just as much as they talk, letting the members of the team speak freely.

When working in the business, owners must provide a united front with their leadership team to the full organization. And most importantly, they cannot try to solve issues in the business without involving the leadership team (aka “end runs”).

As Employees, Owners Work In the Business

At the same time, many owners continue to serve in leadership roles for their companies. Again, they must provide a united front in the presence of all others.

That also means they may not get to have the final say on a decision. The Integrator™ (or president) serves as the tiebreaker in any discussions, acting with the greater good of the company in mind.

Any disagreements an owner may have with a decision should be handled during the owner’s meeting. Owners shouldn’t ever indulge in playing politics or talk badly about leadership team members.

Most importantly, they must fully own any role they have on the Accountability Chart™. Owners have to play by the same rules as every other employee. And those rules say owners can get fired if they’re not the right person in the right seat. That last one can hit pretty hard.

Multiple-Owners Dynamic

When multiple people own a business, they must follow all the rules above with each other first. They need to work together before ever bringing anything to the leadership team.

Multiple owners need to meet regularly to solve owner-level issues outside of the day-to-day business operations. What does this look like?

Owners have to show a united front to their leadership team. To do that, they need to fully identify, discuss, and solve (IDS™) any ownership issues before bringing them to the team. And then the owners must IDS these issues with the leadership team before they become actions in the business.

By the way, all company issues are fair game.

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Redefining Owner Roles

In EOS, we teach that the owners don’t automatically get to make day-to-day changes in the business. This doesn’t mean owners don’t have control over the business, and it doesn’t mean they don’t ultimately own it.

It does mean they don’t get to throw orders around according to their mood. Major business decisions are made by the leadership team. This lets the leadership team lead, creating a healthy culture with a clear vision.

Of course, the leadership team should care about what the owner(s) of a business want. But they stop giving in to what one person says and start working together as a strong team.

I’ve found that owners get used to calling the shots and assume they should continue to do so. So they’ll likely feel some discomfort when “Do what I say because what I say goes” no longer applies.

The “Do what I say” approach can bring confusion, frustration, and a lack of clear direction. EOS pushes people – including the owners – to become their best and work toward the greater good of the organization.

The challenges of running a family business – or any business – on EOS are also what makes them so helpful. The Partnership Rules of the Game might not feel natural at first. But they help owners and leadership teams work better together. This leads to less frustration, and ultimately everyone gets to fight for the future of the company together.

How strong is your company?

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On The Accountability Chart, the Integrator role at times operates like the COO of a company. They provide a buffer between the Visionary and the rest of the leadership team. Integrators make sure everything is running smoothly in the business.

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