The 5 Leadership Abilities That Change How You Do Business: Simplify

How To Simplify

I often use the phrase “one of the first things we teach” when I’m blogging.  That’s lead a lot of readers and listeners to ask me a pretty important question. “What’s the first thing you teach?” The answer: the first thing I put in front of a client is The 5 Leadership Abilities ™.

The 5 Leadership Abilities are the 5 ways of approaching any given issue in your organization. They are both the lens through which we see the issues and the tools we use to fix them.

What Are The 5 Leadership Abilities?

  1. Simplify
  2. Delegate
  3. Predict
  4. Systemize
  5. Structure

That’s it. Now, I’d like very much to tell you that you’ve grown as a leader. But that wouldn’t be true. The truth is that really growing as a leader and a business requires making these 5 simple words the most important 5 words in every employee’s vocabulary. How do we do that? First we s get into the knitty gritty of exactly what each one means.


This week I’ll be starting a series or articles on each of The 5 Leadership Abilities with the goal of really deep diving on how to use each ability to bring Traction® to your organization.




Let’s start with “simplify.” It’s the ability that leaders should always look to first. You’d be astounded how many times I’ve had clients, friends, or coworkers spend hours working over a problem that they didn’t actually have, because they were over-complicating something. “Simplify” is The Leadership Ability that I always suggest clients start with, when they have an issue they’re facing down.


Why Do We Simplify?

First, I’d like to answer why we start with simplification. The other four Leadership Abilities are just as important and just as valuable. However, knowing how each of them can truly help you, before simplifying your problem can be very difficult. Simplification helps us take huge leaps towards solving an issue that might seem very daunting before we put it in perspective. Flexing the “simplify” muscle can mean a lot of different things in an organization. Here are a few examples:


  • Identifying what is the symptom of a problem vs what is the true cause
  • Reducing long term goals into achievable weekly numbers
  • Eliminating “shiny things” and focusing on our EOS Rocks

And, that’s all “simplify” really is, identifying and calling out the needless complexity in a situation.



Why Is Simplification So Important?

There are a lot of reasons that simplification is important. Probably the one I know resonates with most people is that over-complicating an issue makes it nearly impossible to solve. Peeling off the layers of unnecessarily complexity helps us get at the core.


But that’s really just the beginning. One of the most important concepts behind the Entrepreneurial Operating System® is that we do less and achieve more. We teach organizations to stay laser focused on completing weekly to-do’s, quarterly rocks, and annual goals. And the only way to actually achieve those is to eliminate the things we “would like” to achieve and commit to the things we “have to” achieve. We “simplify” by focusing our energy.


Another very important way we can use the “simplify” ability is by reducing issues and goals to measurable numbers. We often achieve this through the use of the weekly EOS Scorecard™. A major issue we see companies dealing with is that they can’t get the answer to whether or not a goal is on track. Why?


They ask, “are sales on track,” they get an answer that sounds like this: “Well, that’s an interesting question, because ……..”. That’s already a complicated answer to a yes or no question. The EOS Scorecard brings a goal down to a single number.


The question above becomes, “how many client meetings did we have this week?” And the answer becomes, “we had seven, with a goal of seven.” Simple.


What Can You Do?

The first step is to remember that this is only the first of The 5 Leadership Abilities. I encourage you to check out the other four articles on Delegate, Predict, Systemzie, and Structure. Each one is a necessary part of the equation, so be sure to also read our article on Pulling The 5 Leadership Abilities Together.

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Whittle & Partners is a consulting group that provides EOS® Implementation in the United States and beyond. We offer in-person and online solutions to fit your business and schedule.Visit our about us page to learn how and why we love bringing Dallas Traction.

Jeff Whittle is a Certified Dallas EOS Implementer.

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