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Small Giants 9-Box Tool for Unlocking Leadership Potential

Unlocking Leadership Potential

In 2005, Bo Burlingham wrote a thought provoking book for entrepreneurs that set a new stage for authentic, strategic and transparent leadership. Small Giants: Companies the Choose to Be Great Instead of Big outlines how companies are being successful through purposeful planning and actions. As a coach, I recommend it as an exceptional resource to entrepreneurs. Burlington defines a Small Giant as companies determined to be the best at what they do. They had opportunity to grow fast, expand geographically, and raise capital yet they chosen not to focus on revenue growth but to focus on purposeful goals. From this book, a Small Giants movement started. The term now refers to companies that demonstrate the core values of trust, growth with purpose, work mindfully, creating great experiences, and that are responsive.

It is important to any entrepreneur is be able to unlock the potential for leadership in their team and as they do consider growth. A tool Blue Egg Leadership uses to help with this is called the SG 9-Box. In the Human Resources field, often the 9-Box grid is a tool used to evaluate an employee’s potential growth. It is simply a tool to gain clarity; not to draw assumptions around any team member on their leadership quotient. I like to say it is a good dialogue tool to provoke curiosity precisely where a team member is and where they might possibly be for leadership.

When working with companies, Blue Egg Leadership uses the SG 9-Box as a powerful growth tool.

The Plan: How to Use the SG 9-Box Tool

It is important to follow a few steps when using a process to unlock leadership potential, reassign roles, or decide fit.

Step 1: Review information on observations from feedforward loops to match team member to description on 9-box grid.

Step 2: Create a safe 1-1 conversation around this. You may want to use a script to clearly guide your thoughts. Share what the SG 9-Box is and how it is simply an HR guide to assess leadership potential and role assignment.

Step 3: Create a Feedforward-15 process with clear expectations, tasks and benchmarks. This can also be a part of a leadership development plan. Ensure there is a clear accountability plan.

Step 4: Continue the Feedforward-15 sessions to see where the team member gauges themselves and then share what you see as their leader.

Blue Egg Leadership's SG 9-Box Tool

Let this tool aid you in your growth! Share with us your successes!

Click HERE to download a printable version of this growth tool directly from the Blue Egg Leadership website! Have questions about this tool or other tools and techniques offered by us? Easily Contact Us from our website to learn more!


Burlingham, B. (2005). Small giants: Companies the Choose to Be Great Instead of Big New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Small Giants. Our Story. Retrieved from

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