5 indications you need a plan, and 4 questions to get started

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I spend a lot of time with leaders and leadership teams as an EOS Implementer. While these partnerships are initiated for many different reasons, a majority of them result from a frustration the leader is experiencing.

 Five very common such frustrations I hear are:

  1. “I’m tired of working late to deal with issues while my team leaves on time. How do I fix that?”
  2. “Our sales have been flat for years, even though our market is growing. How do I fix that?”
  3. “When I’m gone, my leadership team fails to meet and delays decisions until I return. How do I fix that?”
  4. “Most of our sales come from one or two customers, and I’m getting nervous because sales are slowing. How do I fix that?”
  5. “I keep trying to spend more time away from work to test what retirement will look like, and I always have to come back to fix things. How do I fix that?”

All of these situations share two common realities:

  • The root cause of each of these problems lies in an unclear plan, and an inability of the team to work as a true leadership team to give traction to the plan. The fix is that simple, but not that easy.
  • You will never fix it alone. The big shift that’s needed is to change your question to “How do we fix that?”

The reason I start the Honest Culture Journey with setting clear targets is because your team needs to get used to working together on plans, and you need to become skilled at leading a discussion, versus just telling people what to do. You’ll burn yourself out trying to hold everyone accountable. Your job as a leader is to create conditions where accountability can happen. Creating an atmosphere that promotes accountability creates momentum, whereas merely trying to enforce accountability maintains a culture centered around you and your energy to direct all of the work.

A highly effective solution to tackling these issues is to pick a target, go into a room and have a discussion around a plan. At the core of any plan is grappling with these four questions:

  1. What are we trying to achieve?
  2. What is our current state with regard to accomplishing that achievement?
  3. What are the key steps we need to take to achieve that target?
  4. What are the key questions that we must answer to increase our certainty to 90% that we will successfully achieve this goal? (Brainstorm a list of questions, including whether you have the right people in the right seats to do this work; pick the top 3 to 5 questions; and make sure the actions to answer them are included in the plan.)

The final step in executing a plan is the hard part of doing all of this work. Ownership of different pieces of the plan needs to shift to other leaders, who must accept complete accountability for getting the work done. Your role as the leader is to become a coach by checking in, removing barriers, breaking ties when the team cannot reach a consensus, and keeping ownership of the process in the hands of the team. If you want 2021 to look different than 2020 in terms of the results of your business, now is the time to start building and executing a plan. 

Scott Patchin is a Certified EOS Implementer and author of the newly released book, “Truth at the Heart: How honesty, trust, and teamwork can transform your business.” A special feature of the book is Iinsights toin lLeadership from a diverse group of six experienced leaders. The book is available at Amazon.com.

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