Monday, October 17, 2016

Share Leadership

Someone is in charge. You may have thought it was you. Do you share your leadership or keep it to yourself?

Share. It's not an either/or proposition. Even when the buck stops with the leader, the leader can still share leadership. Share decision making. Share idea generation. Share development.

I like the concept from "The Art of Possibility Thinking" by Rosamind Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander -- lead from any chair.

When anyone in the room can contribute, the contributions are better. When anyone in the circle has a voice -- the voices all matter. When anyone in the room can lead, we lead much more responsibly, with more compassion, courage, creativity, and clarity.

Share leadership. It's not losing. It's sharing the win.

-- Doug Smith

Quick Link: Here's a great summary of the 12 concepts from "The Art of Possibility Thinking"

Sunday, October 16, 2016

How's Your Point of View?

If you suddenly appeared to your much younger self, would your much younger self even recognize you? Despite maybe resembling your parent, you are a very different person.

At least you should be.

We grow. We change. Our points of view evolve. Sometimes in that change we can get lost and forget the heart of what is still most important to us.

Our point of view can shift so gradually OR so suddenly that we do not even notice. We go on. We muddle thru.  We do things that at one time would surprise us.

Right or wrong, do you know what you've changed in your values, your goals, your dreams?

I've recalibrate some of my expectations formed from an evolving point of view. I've played roles that no longer suit me. I've left so much work on the field that the field of play has hidden completely some days. Enough of that. Enough of slipping into oblivion. I'm going kicking and singing!

How about you?

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Creative Leader's Approach to Boundaries

How firm are your boundaries? Are you willing to try new things, even if they are so new that they seem frightening?

When I worked at GE there was a lot of talk about creating more boundarylessness. Yes, they made up the word. The broke a semantic boundary in service to their notion.

It's not that there are no boundaries. We need those. It's just that our boundaries tend to get fixed into configurations that constrain us unnecessarily. We need to break those boundaries, or simply pass thru them without breaking them. They become (again, as we referred to them at GE) as permeable boundaries.

Nature knows all about this. Got a fence? Nature will find a way around it or over it or thru it. Build a wall? Nature will find a way to slowly knock it down. Cities and states? Nature doesn't care. If a storm is headed your way, those artificial boundaries that you think are so sacrosanct will not protect you.

Be like nature. Test your boundaries. Cross those borderlines sometimes. Innovate. The creative leader sees boundaries as possibilities, not barriers.

How about you?

-- Doug Smith

Monday, October 3, 2016

High Performance Leaders Stay Curious

Do you have all the answers? Probably not. Let me go out on a limb here -- neither you nor I have ALL the answers. Even when we think we do.

High performance leaders DO have a lot of confidence. It's easy for us to assert our will and believe we know exactly what we're talking about. And, maybe we do. But even then -- even then -- we can learn. Even when we KNOW the answer for sure, guess what? There are other answers. Other people's views. Other perspectives. And they matter when it comes to leading people.

And even when we think we do have all the answers, how permanent are those answers? What could possibly change that will change our views, our needs, our responses?

We don't know what is going to change, but something is. Count on it.

So let go of pretending that you know all the answers and I will, too. Get the views of others. Get the cool ideas into the mix. The possibilities will expand!

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, October 1, 2016

High Performance Leaders and Emotions

Are you an emotional leader?

I had a boss once who put his fist thru a wall. He got lucky. If he hits a stud, it's a broken hand, at least. But he hit pure dry wall and his fist went right thru. He was making a point. I don't remember what his point was, but it was obvious that he was angry. He was also out of control.

Leaders can't afford to look out of control. Scare your team and they'll lose productivity faster than you can say "update the resume."

I've lost my temper, too -- but never put my fist thru a wall (at work. I did once in college in the apartment where I lived, but that's another story. Oh, yes I did fix the hole.)

Sure, leaders can have emotions. But if our emotions get out of control they get in our way. Our teams panic. Our customers walk. Our families cringe.

I'm not advocating any kind of flat line robotics here. Enjoy your emotions. Cry. Laugh. Cuss if you need to. Enjoy the joy that's there in life's rich palette of emotions. Just don't get sloppy about it.

Why not align yourself with some positive emotions? How about these high performance leadership emotions -- joy, faith, delight, passion, patience, compassion, curiosity, creativity, courage...let those hang out all over the place. But keep the crazy ones dialed down.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, September 30, 2016

There Is No License for Laziness

I like to take a day off once in a while. I enjoy long walks with nothing to do but walk. It's not all about outcomes and goals. But those outcomes and goals ARE still important. We earn our leisure, don't we?

The trouble with casual laziness is that it's contagious. And, laziness is persistent. And, before you know it, laziness becomes a way to be.

Don't be lazy. (That's me, talking to myself. Listen in if you want to!)

I like to come up with crazy ideas. I like to do weird work. I like to take long walks with nothing to think about but thinking.

I've lived long enough to be eccentric. But not long enough to be lazy.

Now, get busy...

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Know Why You Do What You Do

Remember that advertising slogan for a very questionable publication that kept saying "Inquiring minds want to know"?

We all have inquiring minds. We all need to know. And what we need to know the most is why. Why do we do what we do. What makes what we do cool, important, necessary?

It's never just a job. It's never just an interaction. There is always a reason why.

Know why. Figure out your why. Identify your mission.

Then roll with it.

-- Doug Smith

My good friend David Spiegel has pointed out that Simon Sinek is a great source on WHY. Here's the video where I first was drawn to his thinking on this: