Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Deliver Quality AND Quantity

Do you ever feel forced to choose between quality or quantity? You either make it right or you simply get it done fast?

That's a false choice. It's not either/or. Sure, it's tougher to do more and do it well. That's why we train. That's why we focus. That's why we work hard.

I've had times when I worked very carefully, very slowly, and very fastidiously on something to get it perfect. And you know what? It did not end up perfect. It ended up plenty good, but plenty good could have been reached in half the time.

I'm not saying cut corners. Do things right. Build in quality. Find the ways to make your processes, your thinking, and your doing faster, better and smarter. Build in quality AND quantity.

Because in today's fast-paced, highly competitive, rapidly changing world, what other choice have you?

-- Doug Smith

Monday, June 13, 2016

Inspire Noble Goals

How would your team describe your goals? Ambitious? Lofty? Aggressive? Self-serving? Noble?

What is a noble goal?

I think a goal that is noble intends no harm. It drives action toward making things better for others. Noble goals create a better world, without creating any losers.

Great leaders inspire noble goals. They focus on aligning their actions with accomplishing their mission -- a mission that simply makes things better.

It's too easy to be self-serving. It's too easy to check the box on goals that highlight our strengths. The growth occurs in noble goals. Solving difficult problems. Creating opportunities for others. Living large without bloating the ego.

Noble goals are tougher. That's why they lead to better results.

Kick your own high performance leadership into gear today. Talk to someone about how noble your shared goals are. You might just inspire someone.

-- Doug Smith

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Get Going!

What goal are you working on?

Maybe you don't spend every minute of every day working on your goals. I certainly don't. But when I do work on my goals they propel me forward. They get me going.

Find your favorite goal. Work on it.  Even if you start with the smallest task. Put one task after the other like little steps leading to a lofty elevation.

Goals get us going. Because standing still goes nowhere.

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Forget Maybe

How do you feel when someone on your team says that "maybe" they'll finish something?

How strong is your confidence with a response of "maybe?"

Your confidence with maybe should be zero. Maybe is uncertain. Maybe has a ton of wiggle room. And much of the time people will wiggle right out of a commitment using the word maybe.

Maybe I'll work out.

Maybe I'll finish that project this week.

Maybe I'll pay attention to protocol.


If someone on your team says "maybe" ask for clarity. What do they mean? Maybe what? How about a real answer? How about some certainty? What can they say yes to?

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, June 9, 2016

High Performance Leaders Create Every Day

What have you created today?

High performance leaders are constantly creating. It could be a new product, a new service, a new relationship, a new work of art. We create to improve. We create to solve. Leaders create.

Creativity leverages itself.

When we start to create, we think of more to create. When I write my morning pages (see Julia Cameron) it sparks new ideas. Even when what I'm writing is utter drivel or emotional purging, the impulse to write remains and is much more easily converted to action.

Creativity inspires itself.

Draw a picture, paint a painting, act in a play, write, sing (even if it's just in the shower) and your creative juices start flowing. You can't help it, or stop it, you become more inspired by firing up your creativity. It's simple, you've just got to do it.

Creativity wants your attention.

If you're at all like me, you've had stretches of time (like that time working in a glass factory) when creativity feels like too much of a struggle to pay it any mind. Ignoring your need (yes, I said need!) to create only pushes it down until something inside you is quietly screaming for your attention. Listen! No one demands museum quality first drafts: simply create.

Each day is given to you to create. What will you create today?

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Communicate Intentionally

Does your team know how you feel today?

They are probably paying much more attention to you than you realize. They probably do know exactly how you feel.

We let people know our feelings in dozens of subtle ways. Whether or not we say hello. How we say hello. Our eye contact. Our tone of voice. Whether or not the door is shut, the music is on, the phone is available.

People are going to figure out how you feel. Wouldn't it be helpful if they figured out how energized, motivated, and supportive you are?

We communicate how we feel whether we like it or not. Why not communicate positive, productive feelings of friendly joy?

It's entirely possible. And -- sparks high performance results.

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Move Your Team Ahead of Its Balance

Do you ever intentionally throw your team off balance?

I once worked with another manager who had a completely different style than mine. He was direct, authoritative, boss-like. And yet, his people loved him. Style is just a start. And Russ backed up his style with a heart as big as all outdoors. Sure, he was boss like, but in a lovable, Lou Grant kind of heart-of-gold.

But his sense of humor was wicked funny. One day he told me that he was going to rearrange his team's workstations.

"I'm going to change every single one," he said. "Everyone is going to come to work and discover that they sit somewhere else."

"Won't that rock the boat?" I asked.

"Absolutely. It will rock them right out of their complacency. And the ones who have been relishing their coveted places will see what it's like next to the copy machine. And the one next to the copy machine will finally get a break. It will shake things up. Some of them will hate it."

"Did you talk with your team about it first?"

"Nah. I'm just going to do it. And you know why?"

"Why, Russ?"

"Because I can."

I laughed. And he laughed. And, he was completely serious. He did that and many other things to keep his team just slightly off balance occasionally. They didn't always know what to expect. Work life included surprises. Some of those surprises were delightful, and some were less than liked. But he had one of the strongest, most productive teams I've ever seen.

Style is just a start. High performance leaders back it up with coaching, mentoring, and just plain caring.

What can you do this week that might delight your team? What might throw them just off balance enough to stumble farther ahead then they might have otherwise?

-- Doug Smith