Top 5 Leadership Skills To Break Through The Ceiling

Last Updated: November 2, 2023 | by Paul Harstrom

Think of your company as if it were a growing child. When a child grows, they don’t do so at a constant rate. There are times of rapid growth, and then there are periods when growth slows down, and the child may feel stuck at a certain height for a while before experiencing another growth spurt.

Similarly, companies go through cycles of growth and challenges.

In a business context, hitting the ceiling refers to reaching a point where further progress becomes difficult. It’s like a barrier that the company encounters. 

This can happen multiple times in the life of a company. When a company hits the ceiling, things become more complicated than they were before. The processes that were working might not be as effective, and the environment might be more challenging.

Thus, Hitting the ceiling is a common part of the growth process for any business, much like the growth and occasional plateaus experienced by a child. It’s a recognition that growth is not always a smooth upward trajectory. There will be hurdles and moments of frustration. 

However, understanding these challenges is essential for the company to grow long-term.

Only a small percentage of companies manage to break through these growth ceilings. To do so, they must master the “five leadership abilities” of the EOS model. In this blog post, we will explain these Top 5 Leadership Skills To Break Through The Ceiling.

EOS Entrepreneurial Operating System Logo: Top 5 Leadership Skills To Break Through hitting The Ceiling

Understanding and applying these leadership abilities can be the difference between a company getting stuck or even going out of business and a company breaking through to the next level.

Simplifying and managing complexity in a company:

“The ability to simplify means eliminating the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” 

Hans Hofmann

Imagine you start a company with just two employees. At this point, there are two lines of communication – person A can talk to person B, and vice versa. It’s relatively simple.

Now, let’s say you hire one more person. The number of potential lines of communication doesn’t just go up by one; it triples. So, with three employees, there are six lines of communication. 

Adding one more employee, making it four in total, doesn’t just add one more line; it doubles the existing lines, resulting in twelve lines of communication.

This multiplication effect exemplifies how complexity can multiply with each addition to your company. As your business expands and more people join, interactions, communications, and potential complications increase exponentially.

The main point is that as your company gets bigger, it’s not just a linear increase in complexity; it can grow much faster. This growing complexity can lead to inefficiencies, miscommunications, and overall challenges in managing business operations.

The famous Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci states:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

According to the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), working against this natural tendency for complexity to accumulate actively is necessary. Instead, regularly review and simplify your processes. 

Hitting the Ceiling

Don’t let unnecessary complications build up. Even if it seems easier to add more steps or layers to address an issue in the short term, this can make your operations cumbersome in the long run. 

By consistently simplifying and streamlining, you ensure your company remains efficient and adaptable even as it grows.

Five simple EOS tools for you and your leadership team to be expert simplifiers include:

  • Vision/Traction Organizer
  • The Accountability Chart
  • Rocks
  • The Meeting Pulse
  • Scorecard

Delegate And Elevate:

While running a company as the leader, you’re initially doing a bit of everything – wearing many hats.  However, as your company grows, you realize you can’t do everything independently. 

Effective delegation and elevation are about recognizing your strengths and passions and entrusting others with tasks they can handle well.

“Don’t tell people how to do things; tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

George S. Patton

Delegation means assigning tasks to others. Instead of trying to manage every single detail, you let people on your team take charge of specific responsibilities. 

Simultaneously, elevation involves focusing on what you do best – your unique abilities. This might include tasks you excel at or those you’re genuinely passionate about.

As a leader, you should encourage leadership training for yourself and everyone in your company. Teach your team members to delegate effectively and encourage them to take on new challenges, helping each other grow.  It’s an ongoing process that needs to adapt as your company expands.

“The best leaders are those most interested in surrounding themselves with assistants and associates smarter than they are.” 

John C. Maxwell

Importantly, avoid micromanaging. Give people the space to shine in their roles.  The goal is to create a workplace where everyone contributes to the company’s success, playing to their strengths and passions. It is about building a culture of shared responsibility and continuous growth within your organization.

Proactive Prediction:

In the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), leadership effectiveness, bolstered by advanced leadership skills, is centered around a leader’s ability to foresee the company’s future and work to make those visions a reality.

This predictive ability is divided into two timeframes: long-term and short-term predictions.

Long-term prediction involves looking ahead beyond the next 90 days and planning for the broader future of the organization. This includes defining the company’s vision, setting long-term goals (like a 10-year plan or a three-year picture), and determining priorities for the upcoming quarter. Essentially, it’s about strategic planning for the more distant future.

On the other hand, short-term prediction is about dealing with immediate issues at hand.

In regular leadership team meetings, leaders identify and address pressing problems that require close attention to keep the company on track, highlighting the importance of practical leadership skills.

The goal is to fix these issues and find lasting solutions temporarily.

So, avoid a reactive approach, where problems are patched up and ignored.

Instead, as a leader, take a proactive stance by using leadership tools to predict and resolve significant issues.

This proactive approach is particularly crucial in rapid growth situations, as it helps prevent the company from encountering severe problems in the future.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

Systemizing Processes:

Systemizing means making everything in your organization function like a well-oiled machine.  New hires are trained and led to follow these optimized processes consistently, ensuring excellent results each time. 

“Simplify, optimize, and streamline operations to achieve outstanding outcomes.”

When we talk about “systemizing processes,” it means organizing and improving the way things are done in the company. But it doesn’t mean writing down every little detail; it is more about taking an innovative and strategic approach.

Suppose your company has various vital tasks, like marketing, dealing with people (HR), making sales, handling operations, and managing finances. These are your core processes.

20/80 approach:

To systemize effectively, there’s something called the “20/80 approach.” This means you focus on 20% of the most critical steps in each task or process, giving you 80% of the results; instead of getting bogged down in all the details, you zero in on the key things that matter to make the process work well.

Once you identify these crucial steps, you create a playbook. This is like a guidebook that captures the most essential elements of your business. It is a collection of the best practices and secrets that contribute a lot to the scaling of your business.

So, in practical terms, systemizing is about making everything in your company run smoothly, like a well-organized machine. By doing things in this intelligent and organized way, you consistently get really good results.


As your company grows, you need more people to work for you. The last part of being a good leader involves arranging all these people in the best way possible so that your company works smoothly.

So, good leadership means planning ahead instead of hiring people randomly and fitting them in wherever there’s space. It’s about creating a thoughtful plan or structure for your workforce.

This structure should make sense for your company now and in the future.

When we talk about “structure” here, we mean how you organize and arrange the people in your company. It’s like creating an organizational chart that outlines who reports to whom, who is responsible for what, and how information flows through the organization.

To do this well, you have to be strategic and forward-thinking. You’re not just solving today’s problems; you’re anticipating the needs and challenges of tomorrow. 

It is a bit like playing chess – you’re not just thinking about your next move but planning several actions ahead. In the business world, this ability to organize and plan for the future is essential to effective leadership.

To learn more, read What Is EOS®? Insights From the Book “Get A Grip.”

Conclusion to Hitting the Ceiling:

Every business, company, department, and individual encounters challenges or hits a ceiling at some point. This feeling of being stuck is normal, but it’s essential to have effective strategies to break through. EOS® offers the Top 5 Leadership Skills discussed above To Break Through The Ceiling and overcome these plateaus.

What is EOS Traction Book Cover

Incorporating these abilities gives you the tools to recognize when you’ve hit a ceiling and the means to break through it.  Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS®, explained these concepts in his book “Traction,” providing a comprehensive guide along with traction book resources to implementing EOS® in your organization.

Also, read 7 Management Practices To Become A Great Manager.

How LEAD Diligently Can Help You

Lead Diligently offers expert-led leadership development programs to help you build business executive skills & advance profitable enterprises.

We are on a mission to help our clients gain the clarity they need to wholly pursue their God-given purpose and grow profitable enterprises.


What does “hit the ceiling” mean in business growth?

“Hitting the ceiling” occurs when you, your department, or your company faces stagnation or struggles to keep up with rapid growth, representing a regular part of organizational growth, often called growing pains.

How do great teams break through the ceiling?

Great teams go beyond surface-level fixes; they delve into the root causes of being stuck and adopt five critical leadership abilities to overcome challenges and propel growth.

What is the “Vision/Traction Organizer”?

The “Vision/Traction Organizer” tool in EOS helps businesses simplify communications, processes, structure, and vision, aiding leadership teams in expertly handling complexities.

How do the EOS tools help diminish feelings of frustration and overwhelm?

The EOS tools provide:
• A structured approach to address growth challenges.
• Digging into the root cause.
• Helping teams break through the ceiling.
It significantly reduces feelings of frustration and overwhelm.

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