During annual planning sessions, I take my clients through a powerful exercise called One Thing. It’s designed to expose our blind spots — the things others know about us that we don’t know about ourselves. We all have them!
During the exercise, every member of the leadership team has the opportunity to receive input from the other members. Consider the following case study.
I usually ask the top leadership position to begin. Joe, our case study company’s founder, enthusiastically volunteered to start the exercise. We began by having everyone tell Joe what he or she most admired about him. As you may imagine, this was an uplifting experience for all. Joe’s team shared things like “I love your endless energy and optimism,” “you have true vision,” and “people just love to be around you.”
Then it was time for One Thing.
A harsh but powerful experience
Each person shared the one thing they wanted Joe to either stop or start doing for the greater good of the company. In what was one of the most powerful moments of the session, we went around the table. Each team member had to dig deep to share his or her One Thing for Joe. The COO began.
“Joe I love your enthusiasm, but I would really appreciate it if you would stop calling me every time you have a new idea,” he said. “It’s disruptive. Instead, I think it would be more productive if we reviewed your ideas during our weekly Level 10 meeting.”
The silence in the room was palpable. Joe began to defend himself, but I interrupted. During One Thing sessions, it’s important to save clarifying questions for when everyone finishes giving their input.
We followed the same drill for each member of the team. When completed, I asked the team to absorb all the input they received and then select the One Thing they would commit to working on over the upcoming year.
The VP of Marketing committed to being more prepared for meetings, the CFO said she would stop micromanaging her sub-team, and the COO pledged to spend more time interacting with employees on the production floor. And Joe? He committed to waiting for the Level 10 meetings to share his new ideas! The session ended with more clarity and positive energy as the team readied to enter the new fiscal year.
So, as we approach the New Year, I ask…what’s your One Thing?
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