Sunday, August 29, 2010

How To Explore The Tough Questions

How are you at asking the tough questions?

As a leader, much of your job is in asking the tough questions. This differentiates leaders in a big way. By ducking the big questions, conflicts remain unresolved. Hidden agendas remain hidden. Team coherence suffers when too much is kept secret. People start acting in ways that are counter-productive and misguided because the lack of clarity has taken away the guidance they seek.


Sometimes we need to ask the tough questions.

Who should a leader ask the tough questions?

- Team members
- Peers
- Leaders above
- Constituents all around you
- Customers
- Regulators
- Even the competition

What are the tough questions?

The tough questions are those you probably already know but may feel uncomfortable asking:

- What's going on?
- How are you in that big project?
- Where are you in achieving those goals?
- What will you do if your resources come up short?
- Where will next year's customers come from?

... and many, many more. The tough questions have no easy answers and usually involve more work. But the questions and the issues are there whether or not you know about it. Whether or not you know what they're thinking, they're still thinking what they're thinking.

Centered leaders don't back away from the tough questions.

Centered leaders explore tough questions with courage and compassion -

  • the courage to raise a difficult issue and face it head on
  • the compassion to listen thoroughly to the views of others and delay reaching conclusions on their content or their character.
Look at your conversational partner with respect. Listen carefully to what they have to say. Hold off on judging them so that you can learn all of the relevant facts and feelings by asking every question you need to ask. See where they're at, and ask what they would do next.

It could possibly be the biggest and best thing you do as a leader this week. When will you start?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Learn more in the workshop: Communicating for Results


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shared Goals

Who knows about your goals?

Who do you tell what you plan to achieve? Who, if anyone will hold you accountable?

A goal shared with another person becomes more than twice as important.

Vocalizing it, sharing it, mulling it around - brainstorming ways to achieve it -- these are all ways that your goal can become more alive once it is shared with someone you trust.

It could be a coach. It could be a mentor. It could be a friend or partner. Share you big goals with someone who cares that you succeed and see what a big difference it makes.

What will you do about your goals today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Momentum

Do you have a sense of momentum?

When I used to play sports - basketball and baseball mostly -- every game had a sense of momentum.

No matter what the score was, I could tell which direction the game was headed and often, who would win based on the feeling of momentum.

Winning has a momentum of its own. Standing still is no momentum at all.

What is your momentum like? Where are you headed? Are you building a winning game?

Where will you be a year from now if you keep doing what you're doing now?

Will that be where you want to be?

What will you do today to energize your momentum in the direction you want it to go?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tough Questions

The toughest words from a high performance leader usually come in the form of questions.

What are you working on?

What are your goals for this year?

Where are you on your goals?

What happened to your deadline?

These and other questions probe to discover what's going on -- one of the kindest and yet toughest questions of all from a leader or counselor or friend:

"What's going on?"

Talking tough situations takes patience and compassion. It also takes courage, persistence, creativity, and clarity. What are you trying to accomplish? How will you know when you've succeeded? What questions will elicit totally open and honest answers, even if the answers are tough to say and tougher to hear.

As a high performance leader, what questions must you ask today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leadership Drama

Is drama a good thing or a bad thing in your organization? Or is there another way to look at it?

Think of drama as excitement. Maybe it's conflict. What is that conflict all about? What's driving it? What is changing or needs to change in order for your people and your organization to operate more dynamically, more effectively?

Centered leaders understand and share the drama in their organizations.

What's exciting? What scares you so much you're practically breathless at the thought?

Drama produces energy and energy can drive the change you need.

How can you as a leader identify and utilize the drama that's present in your organization and in your life?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Friday, August 13, 2010

Profit

Profit measured in only money is not sustainable.

What do you think?

Sooner or later, someone will find a way to make more money, or even to take part of your share (market share, attention share, money share).

What does your organization do that really matters? What do you do that will persist beyond your generation?

Profit measured in only money is hardly profit at all.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time on the Front Line

How much time do you spend working side by side with your team?

Are you willing to sweep the floor and take out the trash?

Do you interact with your customers everyday?
Front line supervisors gain credibility thru front line experience and spend time working directly with their people.

That doesn't come from hiding in an office.

How much time will you spend on the front line today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith