To Be a Great Leader, Learn to Tackle Big Issues

Lessons from world champion athlete Jeremy Bloom and the Entrepreneurial Operating System

A failure — such as an unsuccessful project, strategy or business — can result in a host of negative, destructive emotions, including disappointment, frustration, anger and even depression. However, it’s also a big opportunity. The larger the issue, the greater the opportunity, and high-performance leaders recognize these challenges as break-through opportunities.

Below is a perspective on the value of big issues from an interview I did with Jeremy Bloom. Of all the high performers I’ve talked with or coached (including Inc. 5000 CEOs, Olympic and professional athletes), Bloom is mentally and emotionally the strongest and he uses his mind to create his success. He is a three-time world champion mogul skier, he played football for two years in the NFL and as an entrepreneur, he built a successful not-for-profit company, Wish of a Lifetime, and a venture capital funded international marketing company, Integrate. Here’s an excerpt from the interview I did with Bloom for the book I co-authored, “Fearless Leaders:”


BLOOM: “It’s weird … I don’t look at them as failures. I look at them as setbacks — and I love setbacks, because I think every setback gives you an opportunity to separate from everyone else. Because everybody experiences the same setbacks. But it’s the people, or group of people, that can take an experience … and solve it! It’s like that complicated math equation, saying, ‘All right! This is awesome! This is an area where, if we solve this one problem. We’ll be able to get to where we want to go. We’ll take that next step up.’ So … I love the challenges of those setbacks and the opportunities that they present.”

As a high-performance executive coach and professional Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) implementer, I get totally jazzed when teaching entrepreneurs and leadership teams how to solve issues by using the identify, discuss and solve (IDS) process. It’s a brilliant, yet simple, process that is both highly efficient and effective; it helps teams solve issues at a much deeper level than usual.

Here are the steps of the IDS process:


Keep an up-to-date list of all issues you’d like to solve at some point. Then, remove them from the list.


Many issues are short-term and best dealt with during your weekly leadership team meeting. Save the bigger, more strategic challenges for quarterly and annual planning sessions. Begin your IDS session by choosing, in 30 seconds or less, the top three issues to solve in the session. Don’t begin at the top of your list; start with the most important issue to resolve in the session and use IDS until it’s solved.


Most teams don’t take the time to determine whether a problem is a symptom of a core issue or if it’s the issue itself. Only use IDS after identifying a core issue. Keep asking, “What might be the cause of this issue?” until you get to the deepest cause of the identified problem. This is the core issue.


Have one person share all of his or her thoughts once. Have each new person add information to the discussion or pass if there’s nothing to add. Don’t repeat information, because that’s politicizing. Continue until everything that needs to be said has been said once.

  1. SOLVE

After all information has been stated, more often than not, the solution is obvious. It’s typically an action that someone needs to take. Clarify the action, who will do it and by what date he or she will accomplish it.

IDS is a disciplined process that solves issues at their core forever. It’s efficient, effective and empowering for leadership teams.

Great leaders and teams view issues as opportunities to level up and break through. If you want to be a great leader, or have an extraordinary leadership team, welcome issues and become phenomenal at solving them.

If you’re interested in learning more about solving issues with IDS, I recommend the book, “Traction” by Gino Wickman.

If you’ve ever wondered how the fascinating mind of a world-champion-athlete-turned-international-entrepreneur works, here’s the 21-minute video of my interview with Jeremy Bloom.

Categories: Management & Leadership