green tree growing in dry desert | business owners with success in 2020

Business Owners with This Trait Had the Greatest Success in 2020

Mike Kotsis Small Business, Team Health

The season of Annual Planning Sessions with my clients has just wrapped up, and I’ve noticed an interesting trend. Some teams did well, but their numbers fell short of their goals, while other teams had a phenomenal 2020. Considering the disruptions that were thrown at businesses in the last year, it was no surprise to see some of my clients fall a little short of their goals. In fact, they have a lot to celebrate.

But what was really interesting was noticing which teams saw the best accomplishments this year. The difference between the two types of results came down to the mindset of the leadership team — in particular, the EOS Visionary™. 

Find greater success in 2021: 10 Powerful Habits for Business Leaders to Tackle in 2021

Humble Beginnings

The Visionary of one company took over the family business a few years ago, as a second-generation owner. He was very eager to grow and learn — which stood in contrast to his predecessor, who had all the answers. Instead, this Visionary readily admitted that he didn’t have all the answers, and he leaned into his team all around him. 

He had particular blind spots (as most people do), but he was willing to hear them and was open to receiving what others had to say. He took it to heart and created an open environment where they all realized that the collective good of the team was better than any one of them by themselves. 

This Visionary continually reinforces that message in a way that fosters team growth and ensures that there is healthy conflict, so that they’re striving for the greater good of the team and making sure that everyone is heard.

He also realized that he had to continue to surround himself with people who were more experienced, with a deeper understanding of their area of the company. They onboarded a finance leader and a sales leader, and a customer service leader with great talent. As he found the Right People for the Right Seat, the faster the company began to accelerate. And they became more profitable along with a solid cash position.

They have continued to grow faster than ever before, even in 2020. This company has the information, resources, and tools to make decisions in real-time, and it has transformed their business to a whole other level.

Related reading: How One Company Prepared for a Crisis No One Saw Coming

The Character of a Great Visionary

My clients that have had the greatest success during COVID have owners and Visionaries who are the most open, most coachable, and most willing to put themselves last. They let others speak first, and people feel heard by them, because these Visionaries genuinely want to understand. They want their people to bring more to the table.

It’s interesting to note the interplay between humility and strength, here. These remarkable Visionaries reject the feeling that they have to have all the answers. They are humble leaders who are fanatical about getting the Right People in the Right Seats at the leadership team level. They realize they can’t do it all, and they shouldn’t attempt to do it. 

Paired with a great Integrator, these leaders are also unafraid to face hard truths. Their humility is matched by their fortitude. For example, they may find that their business has outgrown the skills or capabilities of some leadership team members. It’s critical to be willing to have those tough heart-to-heart conversations, and to do it in a way that’s compassionate and direct. 

Flourishing in the Midst of a Down Year

That kind of leadership brings tangible results. In my clients’ cases, those teams nailed their 3-Year Picture™ for 2020. Not only did these companies hit their revenue and profit goals, but they exceeded them. In two instances, 13 out of 15 bullet items in their 3-Year Picture were complete. They were blown away by the exactness of the results, and how real it all became. Seeing those results gave them incredible energy and momentum to keep pushing forward.

These teams that had great years in 2020 also confronted tough decisions early. They got clear about what their Reverse Accountability Chart™ needed to look like. They got clear on their forward-looking cash flow projections. They defined their triggers so they would know what action to take, if they needed to retract — and some of them did. But in each case, they bounced back in 2020 and achieved the 1-Year Plan that they had set pre-COVID. 

That’s pretty phenomenal.

The Mindset of a Winning Team

All this is a testament to their leadership and discipline to focusing on team health first and foremost. As Patrick Lencioni says in The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

The mindset of your leadership team — and your Visionary, in particular — truly makes a real, tangible difference to the success of your organization. It all stems from having a leader that’s willing to lead with true heart and vulnerability, without avoiding the truth — or, as Jim Collins calls it, confronting the brutal facts.

Is your leadership team ready to lead with true heart and vulnerability? Let’s talk about your needs!