Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Two Parts of Creativity

How would you define creativity?

Some people see it as a flash of inspiration. It's the appearance of a wonderful and mysterious muse. Suddenly great and beautiful things happen.

For others, it's not like that at all. Why wait for the muse? Sometimes the muse is fickle and hard to find. We need creativity all of the time. We can't wait for brilliant flashes of insight. We need to conjure up that magic ourselves.

Creativity is not just inspiration -- it's also dedication and hard work.

Put in the work. Watch the magic happen.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, September 2, 2017

High Performance Leaders Are Accountable

My friend and fraternity brother David Spiegal operates a variety of businesses, models success in many ways, helps people become healthier and happier, and more -- all while being a loving family figure and man of faith.

Occasionally, I'll like one of his daily emails so much that I publish it here, word for word. I'm doing that today because, well, it's thought-provoking AND he refers to me in it. (My humble response follows his article as a comment.)

Here's Dave...

"Leadership is not a license to do less; it is a responsibility to do more."
-Simon Sinek-Leaders Eat Last 
September Word of the Month:
ACCOUNTABILITY

Yesterday was a really great day. The weather was pleasant and I found myself in a really fantastic mood. At one point I was singing along with one of my favorite songs on the radio. I don't mean singing like following a long. I mean belting it out as if I were a finalist on America's Got Talent.
I made some long over due phone calls.
I cleaned up a multitude of emails and tidbits that were cluttering my desk.
Like I said, it was a really great day.
Today when I awoke the skies were even brighter than yesterday. So why if that's the case am I in such a dower mood on the the first day of September and another How Am I Doin' Friday?
It has a lot to do with the September word of the month, accountability.
Like any one else, I come in contact with and have to deal with a lot of different people.
Each and every one of them have their own idiosyncrasies.
Some may call them quirks or peculiarities.
That's what makes us individuals not automatons.
We recognize them and for the most part we deal with them to the best of our abilities.
Some times these "quirks" become a bit much.
They create an uncomfortable environment for those who have to deal with them.
For years now it has been the "in" way of being to "just be me".
Accept me as I am is the norm of the day.
Much like the attitude that spawned Gordon Gecko's famous line from the movie Wall Street "Greed is Good", bad behavior disguised as "well it's just my way" has become the accepted practice.
Let me fill you in on a little secret.
Greed is not good.
Neither is bad behavior disguised as quirkiness.
We have a responsibility when we interact with others.
I get the whole "I have to be true to myself" stuff.
However,if me being me is just flat out weird, then maybe me should go live in the woods by myself.
When others are effected by my idiosyncratic behavior, I have the responsibility of curbing my quirkiness while working in and around them.
ACCOUNTABILITY
How do my actions effect those around me?
Did I leave a mess on the table I just ate at at the fast food restaurant?
Did I flush the toilet after I used it?
Did I put the seat down?
These are small examples of personal accountability.
It comes along with common decency.
If others are depending on me to do something, it's Nike time.
Just Do It!
Simply saying "oops , I forgot, but hey that's just how I am" does not cut it.
My friend and colleague Doug Smith who coaches companies around leadership and team work may have some insight into dealing with this "accept me as I am" modality that permeates today's world and maybe he can shed some light on it for me.
Maybe I'm just old fashioned.
I hold open doors for people ...all people not just pretty women.
I say please and thank you and good morning and yes I even smile at people.
And most importantly, if it is my responsibility to get something done. particularly when it may effect others, I make sure it gets done.
ACCOUNTABILITY!
If getting something done is your responsibility, hold yourself accountable and make sure that it gets done!
Shabbat Shalom! 

David Spiegel




Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ask The Right Questions

Are you asking the right questions?

One of my mentors, Lester T. Shapiro, told me that the primary role of leaders is to ask relevant questions. I heard that over twenty years ago, and it is as true today as it was then. Leaders ask questions.

Questions to challenge.

"What was the best thing about the performance?
"What could we have done to make the performance better?"
"What will you do differently next time?"

Questions to probe.

"What stands in your way?"
"When will you achieve that goal?"
"When will you know when you will know?"
"What would make this goal even more noble, more ambitious?"

Questions to motivate.

"When have you overcome something like this before?"
"Who do you know who has done something similar?"
"What makes you feel good about this goal?"
"Who will you help the most by achieving this goal?

Questions.

The secret to leadership success is asking the right questions.

And, to once again quote one of my other mentors, Andrew Oxley, "If you don't like the answer to a question, ask a better question."

If you get this right, when you get this right, the leadership develops new and refreshing clarity. Try it. You'll like it.

-- Doug Smith

Monday, August 21, 2017

Your Creative Side

Do you have a creative side?

You know - that side that smiles when you're making something new. That side that sings not just in the shower but whenever a song strikes your fancy. That side that comes up with great new ideas when you weren't even trying to.

That's you. Deep inside each of us, when we least expect it, is a creative spark just waiting to ignite. Fan those flames and watch the blaze light you up. You'll like the results.

Your creative side is always available. Let it roll.

-- Doug Smith

Monday, July 31, 2017

Nobody Is Interested In Excuses

Imagine this - you've been expecting someone on your team to complete an important task. The deadline is looming. You're ready for the deliverable at any time, and then...and then they start the list of excuses why they can't complete the task.

No fun, right?

Not acceptable, true?

True for you, and true for others who rely on you as well.

Leading for success leaves little room for excuses.

When I worked at Whole Foods one of my bosses once said, "we live in the land of no excuses." It was true there then, and it's true here now. Nobody is interested in any excuses.

-- Doug Smith


Monday, July 17, 2017

Maintain Flexibility Without Losing Focus

Have you ever seen someone who is so flexible that it's hard to know where they stand?

There have been times when I felt that way myself. It feels free, but then limits because it's so hard to make a decision. How do you choose? What's best?

I've since learned that it helps in making decisions to rely on a solid set of values, a strong sense of purpose, and a committed set of goals. Everything else, from projects to past times, falls in line with those three things. When you add your sense of faith to your values (or as one of your values) it becomes much easier to see when it's necessary to be flexible and when it's necessary to remain firm.

High performance leaders maintain flexibility without losing focus.  They know when to be flexible and when to be firm.

How about you?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is Stress A Choice?

How big of a deal is stress in your life?

We all endure a certain amount of stress. Depending on what's going on in your work and in your life, you may be going thru more stress than you want. Not all stress is bad (setting an ambitious goal, for example, adds a kind of good stress) but too much stress can slow you down.

How much of your stress are you choosing? Certainly, not all of your stress, but could you admit that some of it is the result of you doing too much worrying, or waiting too long to work on that big goal, or taking what the boss said too personally, or procrastinating when you knew the deadline was going to be tough?

You know as well as anyone else the answer to what to do about the stress you cause yourself: let it go. Stop it. Relax, breathe, focus, and then get to work.

When we do that, when we control the stress that we can control, when we choose "no" to a piece of self-selected stress, it makes handling the tough unchosen stress much, much easier.

Refusing to believe that stress is a choice won't get rid of your stress. Face it, deal with it, and when you can -- let it go.

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

High Performance Leaders Practice Taking Criticism

Do you like criticism?

I'll admit that I don't. I'm blessed with overly-sensitive sensibilities, and criticism triggers all kinds of defensiveness. But I'm working on it. I'm learning.

Criticism can be harsh, but not all criticism is harsh. As don Miguel Ruiz says, "don't take anything personally" (The Four Agreements.)

Instead of taking criticism personally, I'm working on finding the value. Finding the feedback that I can use. You might not be able to use all of it. Some days, you can't use any of it. When you can - do.

If you can take criticism without getting defensive you'll find the benefit it's meant to give.

It's part of good leadership. It's integral for communicating for results. And, it will help you to achieve your goals.

Use that to make your situation better, and it's all good.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Get Results

Don't expect anyone to appreciate the effort unless they like the result.

As my former boss, Bruce Green once said, "nobody cares how hard you tried."

That might sound cold, but it's right on point. Effort is important, but results rule. Useful, productive, noble results of course. Results that align with your values. But effort without results? Nobody really cares.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, July 7, 2017

High Performance Leaders Prioritize

Does this sound familiar? "I don't have enough time! I don't even have time to decide what to do next!"

It's a familiar cry with some of the groups I facilitate. Working on their productivity, they can barely find time to work on their productivity.

Start simply. Start at the top. Start where the most leverage brings the bonus opportunities: prioritize.

Decide how you will decide. What makes something important to you? It's up to you. It could be your mission. It could be your faith. It could be your circumstances (gotta pay the bills!) What is it for you?

Decide how you will decide and then decide.

Priorize.

Sound too simple? It's a place to start.

What's most important in your life?

-- Doug Smith




Thursday, July 6, 2017

Negotiate Fairly

Do you negotiate fairly?

Dozens of books teach how to take advantage of other people. Is that what you really want to do? Or, do you want to create conversations and negotiations that develop your relationships?

If you know a piece of information that could effect your bargainer's position...what if you shared it?

If you know about a technological change that will dramatically impact the price of the thing you're negotiating on -- what if you shared that, too?

If your negotiating partner (not opponent!) is clearly making concessions based on a recently weakened position, do you grab all you can get?

Unless you negotiate fairly you aren't really negotiating.

And only fair negotiations count. Anything else is abuse.

-- Doug Smithy


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Get The Performance You Want

Are your goals ever misunderstood by your team?

That can happen when the metric you use decouples from its intention. I remember managing a customer service department and wrestling with the mission of providing world class service and yet counting how many calls each representative answered. They were rewarded for answering many, many calls -- yet anyone who's ever been a customer knows what it feels like to be rushed thru a call. That's not great service.

As a high performance leader, you've got to prioritize. You've got to set unambiguous goals that make it clear what you are measuring AND why. There can be no doubt what matters.

People can game your goals if they aren't clearly aligned with the mission. Don't let that happen.

Set goals so clear that they can't be misunderstood.

It's your best chance at getting the performance you want.

-- Doug Smith


Monday, July 3, 2017

Build Your Team With Fun

Are your projects fun?

Do people tackle their tasks with a sense of energy and enthusiasm? Most importantly, do you hear laughter at work?

Find the fun in your project and your chances of success increase.

You'll be happier, your team will be happier, and your projects will show greater results.

-- Doug Smith


Focus on Your Mission

Team enthusiasm comes from embracing the team mission.

Do they know what it is? Are they excited about it? Does it drive your decisions as a team?

If not, find out why. Clearly define that mission. Focus on that mission. You'll like the results.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, July 1, 2017

No Gossip

No leader can ever afford to gossip.

Just don't do it. As many a grandmother would say, "if they'll gossip TO you, they'll gossip ABOUT you."  Just don't.

We had a great rule at GE while I worked there: honor the absent. Don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't say if they were standing right in front of you.

That about covers any chance of gossip - simply honor the absent.

It's shows much better character, and high performance leaders need highly developed character.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, June 30, 2017

High Performance Leaders Build Teams By Building People

You don't build a team by tearing down any of the players.

No matter how much a team member is struggling, successful supervisors work to help them, not trash them. Provide training. Coach. Counsel. When a team member is willing, find a way for them to learn. When they are not willing, find out why.

Occasionally, a team member may need to leave, but they never need disrespect.

High performance leaders build teams by building people.

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Drive That Train Fast

High performance leaders drive results without crushing people.

You can be exacting, and even demanding, without being a jerk. Centered leaders realize that people work best when they are challenged, supported, and appreciated.

Drive that train fast -- but don't run over anyone.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Building Your Team: Don't Clone Yourself

Do you wish that you could clone yourself?

Imagine the possibilities. Your one man band could be a one man BAND. Your team could be filled with people who meet your expectations exactly. Wouldn't that be great?

No. That would not be great. And yet so often we are tempted to try to do that, even though it is (currently!) impossible. How? By hiring people like us. By hiring people and staffing our teams with people who remind us of us. By doing our best to create the team of our dreams filled with the perfect people: copies of ourself.

Except, you wouldn't really like a whole team of you. Your problems would be magnified. Your weaknesses would be multiplied. And your sense of judgement, unregulated by any kind of diversity, would pull you right over a cliff.

Building your team does not mean cloning yourself.

Instead, building your team means finding diverse talent, people who are creative, people who are strong enough to disagree with you, and people who surprise you with both their powerful strengths AND their occasional challenges.

Build your team with pieces that fit because they're both different and flexible. Build your team with people who are so different from you that they push and challenge you. Build your team for the mission, not for the look. Because as attractive and wonderful as you are, one of you is enough.

-- Doug Smith

Our training program "Supervising for Success" includes valuable and instantly usable ideas on how to build your team. Contact me today about bringing this two-day training program to your location.

doug@dougsmithtraining.com


Monday, June 26, 2017

Prepare to Do Better



Ready, set, go. But then things get in the way and stop us from getting where we need to go. That's not the end, it's just a pause to refresh, to re-energize, to reset and learn.

Sometimes the best we can do is to prepare to do better.

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Achieving Your Goals: Get Them Right


Working the wrong goals gets in the way, and yet we often find ourselves working on things that are assigned to us or poorly chosen. High performance leaders push against that. The final answer isn't the final answer if it doesn't serve the team. Work suffers when our goals stink.

Fix that. Negotiate great goals. Reach agreement on exciting, ambitious, nobel goals and see what happens next. When our goals are right, our work is better.

Give that a try. I think you'll like it.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, June 16, 2017

Soul Shaking Goals

When the goal speaks to your soul nothing will stand in your way.

Not for long. Not forever. The goals that speak to your soul prevail.

What soul shaking goal are you working on today?

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, June 15, 2017

When A Problem Confronts You



Just because a problem confronts you, doesn't mean that you must become confrontational.

Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay centered. It works so much better than panic or anger.

-- Doug Smith



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

No Insult Leadership

I had a boss once who insulted me every day. It seemed like nothing would please her. And, it wasn't just me -- she insulted everyone on the staff. It made coming to work far more stressful than it needed to be, and took the joy right out of the job.

Don't be that boss.

Sure, we need to provide feedback for improvement - but that's what it is, not insults. No one is looking for judgments that make them feel bad. No one wants their self-esteem cut to shreds because the boss is having a bad day.

Keep your bad days to yourself, please.

Feedback designed to harm or insult is better left unexpressed.

Your team will feel better, and you will, too.

-- Doug Smith

Bring our two-day workshop "Supervising for Success" to your location for just $149 per participant for organizations within 50 miles of Newtown, PA.

For more info: Supervising for Success


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

High Performance Leaders Confront Self-deception

Self-deception is so strong that we can't tell where it starts or ends.

To avoid falling into a trap of self-deception, get all the feedback you need. Positive feedback, feedback for improvement, and reality-checks against deception. Find people you trust, and ask: does this make sense? Is this a noble goal, or is this a self-serving goal?

High performance leaders confront self-deception. It's there: deal with it.

-- Doug Smith


Bring our two-day "Supervising for Success" workshop to your location. Contact me here:
doug@dougsmithtraining.com

What's in the workshop:

- Achieving your goals
- Developing leadership
- Ten keys to leadership success
- Communicating for results
- Building your team
- Developing motivation in yourself and others
- Improving productivity
- Coaching to improve performance
- Exploring generational strengths and challenges
- Setting and keeping priorities


It's two-days of leadership training that your front-line supervisors will use forever.

doug@dougsmithtraining.com



Monday, June 12, 2017

High Performance Leaders Set the Example

Holding yourself accountable helps hold others there, too.

Show the world that you are a leader with honesty, integrity, and accountability and your team will more than notice -- they will model your example.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, June 2, 2017

Building Your Team: Tear Down The Broken Walls

Building your team is a never ending project. No matter where you start, your team is constantly evolving. If you don't evolve, you devolve, and that's not what you want.

Unfortunately, sometimes a team needs to add by subtracting. Maybe it's a poor performer who is a poor match and needs another place someplace else. Maybe it's a broken process that is so obsolete you can't even remember why you still use it. Maybe it's having lost sight of the vision for the team or needing a new one completely.

Sometimes building your team means tearing down what doesn't work.

No need for tears. No need for pain. Simply remove the no longer needed or useful wall that stands between and your team's goals. You do no one any favors by letting it stand.

What stands in your team's way?

-- Doug Smith

Looking to develop high performance leadership in your life and your organization? Contact me today about bringing the two-day workshop "Supervising for Success" to your location.

doug@dougsmithtraining.com

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Creative Leaders Write

This is for you. You know who you are. You've got great ideas. You've got stories to tell. Adventures, misadventures, songs off tune and songs in key. The kind of material that fills you with so much lightness of being that you sometimes float away as well as the kind of material that weighs you down no strong wind could ever move you.

Write that book.

Chapter by chapter, idea by idea. Where it goes comes later. What you do with it comes later. Who cares about it comes later.

You are filled with treasures unclaimed. Don't keep them in your chest. Don't trap them in your head. Put them in motion. Set them free. Write them out of you with the fervor and glee of a jazz musician gone mad.

Go a little crazy, just get it all out.

Write that book even if no one ever reads it.

Especially if no one reads it. It's for you.

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Keep Looking for the Truth

How can you tell when you know the truth?

We look at things thru so many filters that we don't always know what we see. Is it the truth, or our version of the truth? Is it a shared truth, or are we in disagreement. We develop so many polar opposite views that it immobilizes us, and then we dig in more.

As high performance leaders we must find ways past that. We have to keep looking for the truth. We can't settle for our long term bias. We must uncover, discover, and grow.

Wouldn't it be great to know the absolute truth? The problem is that we think we already do.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, May 20, 2017

High Performance Leaders Launch Their Projects

Don't start another project. Launch it.

Give that project the energy, the momentum, the power it needs to focus on the goal, work the plan, and create something both useful and memorable.

Your project is worth it. Give that new start the focus it needs with a workshop that brings together all of the key constituents. Let your project team feel part of something special by celebrating before they even get started.

Giving your project a collaborative workshop launch could be the most high impact thing you could do for it.

What goes into a collaborate workshop launch?

You decide. I have found it helpful and energizing to include these:


  • A vision/mission for your team.  This could be your project goal, expressed in a way that drives some excitement into the project
  • A team identify. Depending on the project (and your budget) that could be as simple as matching T-shirts and coffee mugs, or as elaborate as a team name theme song, and video
  • Carefully prepared agenda. Make significant progress on the project at that first workshop so that success seems not only possible but inevitable.
  • People! Who ever your project touches is a candidate for that first launching workshop. Let them feel the benefits headed their way. Ask the to raise their concerns (those will come up later anyway, you might as well deal with them early.) 
  • Food! You already know the magic of breaking bread together -- add that to the mix.
  • Music! Projects are dependent on creativity, so add as much creative content to the opening launch as you can to stimulate and inspire your team. 
What else? What ideas do you have? 

Make your project sing. Make your project shine. Make your project launch!

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Solving Problems: Relax the Overwhelm

Have you ever tried TOO hard to solve a problem?

It's possible. I've been know to over-think a problem. People sometimes take the spaghetti approach -- throw a bunch of solutions at the problem and see what sticks.

Sometimes it works. It doesn't always. Sometimes finesse wins the day. Or patience. Or collaboration.

It isn't always necessary to overwhelm a problem in order to solve it. Maybe, like in the martial arts, it pays to let the problem fall on its own with just a gentle re-direction from you.

-- Doug Smith


Can Your Team Just Take a Shortcut?

Wouldn't it be great if there were a shortcut to greatness for teams?

A vitamin, a slideshow, a speech -- something that would get the team right where you want it right now.

As my friend Judi would say, "Wake up, you're dreaming!"

There are not shortcuts to team greatness. What is available is the planning, the talking, the coaching, the working, the problem solving -- the effort it takes to bond a cohesive and productive team together. There will be mistakes -- you'll survive. There will be temporary success -- you'll find a way to sustain it longer. There will be times of confusion -- let your vision see you thru.

Great teams are built on noble intentions and disciplined hard work.

Showing up everyday. Putting in the time. Making the effort. Learning, growing, and talking it thru.

Short cuts? Not available.

Hard work? Absolutely. Discipline? Worth developing!

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Achieving Your Goals: The Possibilities are Endless


Do you believe in endless possibilities? I'm not one of those people who believe that anyone can do anything if they just believe. Here's why. No matter how much I believe, I will never play major league baseball. Even if I could learn to hit a fastball (my reflexes haven't kept up with these young pitchers' arms!) let's face it: I'm way past the age of sports prime.

That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other horizons to gaze into, explore, and travel. The possibilities don't shrink as we grow, they expand. They're just different.

It is primarily important to pick the right goals. Sensible, achievable goals. When we do that, the possibilities are endless.

I can't say that ANYthing is possible, what what IS possible is plenty. Seek that.

-- Doug Smith

------------------------------------------

Shameless Promotion Department

If you'd like to increase and improve your possibilities as a supervisor I can help you with that. It's what I do.

If you and others at your organization would benefit from a two-day workshop on high performance leadership, please do contact me about "Supervising for Success." It's over twenty years of leadership experience, tools, methods, and techniques distilled into my "greatest hits." I love delivering this program and I enjoy watching supervisors realize that they CAN get stuff done without ticking people off. Let me show you how.

Contact me here: doug@dougsmithtraining.com



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Solving Problems: Avoid Making Assumptions


How good are you at avoiding assumptions. (Careful now, is that an assumption?)

We all make assumptions and it's almost always a mistake when we do. I'm working on taking Don Miguel Ruiz's advice on that from the Four Agreements: Don't make any assumptions.

I'm especially careful about it when it comes to answers, to solutions, to big changes. Assuming we have all the answers is highly questionable thinking. When we do that, it's time to ask more questions.

What assumptions should you stop assuming today?

-- Doug Smith




Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Look for and Listen for True Feedback

Are you a fan of feedback?

I once avoided it. Oh, I'd enjoy positive feedback as much as anyone. Truthfully, I loved it. But feedback for improvement? Or outright criticism? Yeah, go ahead and keep that to yourself.

Even when I taught other people that feedback was a gift, the negative feedback could stay wrapped up as far as I was concerned.

Then I realized that it's only feedback. It may or not be even true. It comes from one person's perspective and that is influenced by so many factors, much of it has absolutely nothing to do with me.

But more important than that -- there are things about my performance I miss. There are things that I don't see, don't hear, don't feel but that other people do and that effects their experience. Since I want my customers, my clients, my learners to all have the best possible positive learning experience when they work with me, the constructive feedback really does help me to do more of what is needed and less of what is not wanted or useful.

Feedback is a gift. Open it up. Unwrap it. Unpack it. Figure out how you can use it without taking it personally. It's not about you, anyway. The best part is about your performance.

Why not make that the best that you can?

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Move That Goal Forward



I love a good goal. It makes me practically tingle inside with excitement. But hey, unless I design a robust plan and DO something about it, the goal just lingers there until it fades into the background of a busy day.

When you find a goal you like, do something. Identify the next possible thing you can do on that goal and DO it. Build momentum. Act.

High performance leaders create great goals and then ACT on them. Immediately, repeatedly, and regularly.

When a goal grabs your attention, do something to move it forward!

-- Doug Smith

Monday, April 24, 2017

High Performance Leaders Challenge AND Support


Teams fundamentally want and need two things from their leaders:

1. To be challenged, and
2. To be supported

You've got to have their back. You've got to protect their interests as well as the team goals. And you've got to challenge them to do more than they ever have before.

Stretch, grow, respond. It's what your team wants. Are you delivering high performance leadership?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, April 17, 2017

Retreat Is Just Another Tactic

What if retreat is part of the plan?

If our goals are truly ambitious, we will experience some difficulty achieving them. Tough goals cause us to stretch. Tough goals encourage us to grow, to adapt, to create. And, tough goals sometimes cause us to retreat.

I do not like to retreat. I do not like to come up short. My ambition is to plunge ever forward at rapidly increasing rates of speed. But sometimes, crap happens. Sometimes, that action item is bigger than expected and more challenging than it at first appeared. We might miss. We might retreat.

There does not need to be shame in retreating. It's just a dance step, really, leading to the next bold step up. We create some room, some breathing space. It's just a pause, or a parry. And then we leap ahead.

That's how it has felt with one of my exercise goals. I do well, and then something happens that distracts or delays me, and a day goes by with a missed goal. I am making peace with that while NOT letting go of the goal. Because tough goals take time, and life will do its best to borrow as much of that time as it can.

That's why we must be resilient. That's why we must be dedicated. That's why we must be disciplined. Set a noble goal, design a robust plan, and then act relentlessly on your plan.

Even when there's an occasional retreat. It's all part of the plan.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Align Your Goals

Are your goals aligned with your mission?

That, of course, implies that you immediately know your mission. So, if you don't, isn't it time to either: a) memorize your mission, or b) create your mission?

We achieve our goals in order to achieve our mission.

When we've created true alignment in our efforts, when our goals support and bring about our mission, we gain the leverage to accomplish great things AND enjoy the process.

What do you think?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Find Better Possibilities

Stuck?

Sitting still?

Blocked by some hardy wall?

The secret to motion is possibilities. The key to progress is motion. The heart of growth is uncovering what choices remain (and here's a secret to the secret, the choices are unlimited.)

It's a leader's job to find better possibilities and bring them to life.

Start digging.

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Keep Your Team Members Engaged

When someone leaves your team, what are they giving up on?

Does that sound like an abandonment issue? Is there something basically insecure to blame yourself when someone goes away?

It's not always the leader's fault. Sometimes people leave for their own private reasons that have nothing to do with the team leader. Still. Let's face it. Most of the time people leave a team because of an issue with their boss.

Do your people have issues? Do the ones who leave miss something fundamental about the team's mission, vision, and goals?

Keep your team members engaged in what's going on. Let them know your direction. Find out what they are looking for. Energize their sense of value and worth.

We don't (and can't) keep everyone on our team ON our team forever. But we needed see them leave too soon, either.

What will you do today to engage your team members?

-- Doug Smith


Friday, March 17, 2017

Strategies for Dealing With A Bullying Boss

Is your boss a bully?

A surprisingly large number of people in the workforce (over half!) have had a boss who uses bullying, Machiavellian methods of authority and control. It can be really tough to deal with, especially when you consider that the boss has ultimate (or so it would seem) control over your current career. They use that to their advantage, but there are things that we can do when faced with a bully boss.


Gleaned from several sources, I consider this list to be a work in progress. I'm interested in your ideas as well because as I conduct training on communication skills, leadership, and productivity many people struggle with what can only be defined as bad bosses.

Here are some things to do:


  • Remain assertive (not aggressive and NOT passive.) Maintain eye contact. (1)
  • Do NOT rely on HR for help. They are NOT on your side.
  • Document every incident with the person who causes you concern, including especially incidents of bullying, teasing, berating, harassing. Quietly build your case. (1)
  • Avoid talking about the problem person but DO maintain healthy relationships with the people you work with. When you can, keep them nearby when you must encounter the difficult boss.(1)
  • Present your ideas in a way that allows your tyrannical boss to take at least partial credit. (2)
  • Choose your battles wisely and control your emotions when confrontation is necessary. (2)
  • Talk about it with the difficult boss. (5) As tough as that conversation might be, it likely is necessary. It's a great time to practice your CLUES to Success
Something else to consider comes from the thin book "How To Deal With Difficult People" by Paul Friedman:

"Keep in mind that the difficult people you encounter usually think you're the one who's being difficult." (p.42)

The good news on that? You do control YOUR behavior. Maybe there's something you can do to create a better relationship.

I realize that's not always true, which is while I've listed the tactics above. People are complicated, and sometimes they're difficult. The bully for a boss is one of the worst.



Sources:

  1. 10 Tips for Dealing With A Bullying Boss - from CIO. Lots of pages to click thru but some nuggets of useful information, especially if people-skills is not your core strength.
  2. How Successful People Overcome Toxic Bosses - Breaks down bad bosses into different types (such as the Micromanager, the Tyrant, The Incompetent, The Robot...) and provides tacts for dealing with each type.
  3. The Machiavellian Boss - From Psychology Today. Short on advice but rich with detail describing the traits of a Mach and how they score on key leadership suppositions. Useful to gain insights into the motivations of a tyrant or devious boss who oddly enough believes their behavior is productive and even noble.
  4. Your Boss Isn't Just a Psychopath, It's Way Worse Than That - From FastCompany's FastCoExist illustrates the problem of a bad boss and offers the skills you need to navigate office politics (even if it leaves a bit of a sour taste for you): Astuteness, Effectiveness, Networking, The Appearance of Sincerity). That last one is the one that might cause the distaste. The point of the article, agree or not, is that one in five business communications is a lie and we either navigate that or fall victim to it. While I'm not sure about that, see what you think.
  5. How To Deal With Difficult Co-Workers: It's not just your boss who might be difficult. Molly Triffon examines six common difficult types (The Complainer, The Idea Stealer, The Bully, The Slacker, The Gossiper, The Know-It-All) and what to do with them.
  6. How To Deal With Difficult People, Revised Edition - Paul Friedman, SkillPath Publications, 1994, Mission, KS 

Links have a way of changing or going away, so if you find a busted link in this list and you let me know about it I will fix the list.  Thanks!




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Building Your Team: Serving With Joy

How much time do you spend watching your team interact with its customers?

I know, time is hard to find. We all have commitments and goals to achieve. We all struggle with our various deliverables.

But, imagine the impact you could enjoy by spending more time with your team members.

Not to monitor. Not to spy on them. To enjoy their company, to reinforce your team values, to show them your own commitment to serving.

When the leader serves with joy and enthusiasm, that spreads to the rest of the team. They will follow your lead. You can't fake this, though. You must really enjoy interacting with and serving your customers. And if you don't, it's worth considering if you've yet to find the right calling and customers.

Healthy teams serve with joy.

Healthy service starts with the leader.
Who are you serving today?

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, March 11, 2017

How to bring high performance leadership training to your location

Supervising for Success
Developing your front line leadership skills



Two things happen when you are promoted to supervisor. First, you lose your team's best technical performer (because that was you!) and second, you are thrust into a job that requires a completely new set of skills. 

Working side-by-side and setting a great example with customers is a good place to start, but supervisors and managers need so much more. In this in-person workshop you will explore, discover, and practice these key leadership skills:

  • Develop leadership capacity, strength and flexibility
  • Set and achieve your supervisory goals
  • Handle critical conversations confidently
  • Build collaborative, cohesive, results-based teams
  • Develop more motivation in yourself, your team members, and your colleagues
  • Delegate work that develops your team
  • Improve productivity
  • Coach to improve performance
  • Facilitate highly productive meetings
  • Solve team problems collaboratively
  • Practice preventing and responding to your most common supervisory challenges
  • Plan, align, and prioritize your work to optimize your results




What to ExpectYou’ll take advantage of your natural gifts and strengths while developing the ability to grow and utilize the other essential leadership skills.

Who Should Attend

Supervisors, front line leaders, and team members preparing to move into leadership. 




Length of Program 

One day accelerated overview, or
Two-day intensive with more practice developing the skills you need most.


For more information on how to bring this workshop to your location, please contact me:

doug@dougsmithtraining.com

High Performance Leaders Do Not Hide

I had a boss once who said he had an "open door" policy. His intention was that people would feel that it was fine to wander in, ask questions and express opinions. The problem was, his door was usually physically closed.

Or he was in a meeting. Or with a client. Or out of town. Unavailable.

I'm sure that he wasn't really hiding, but to the team it felt the same as hiding. The door wasn't open.

A high performance leader does not hide.

High performance leaders make the effort to not only SAY they are available -- they ARE available. And, they don't hide fro the hard truths, the tough rumors, or the impatient requests of their people. Though careful listening, high performance leaders discover that hiding doesn't solve any problems and facing problems doesn't cause more problems.

Is your door open?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Tool for Neutralizing The Ravages of Marital Conflict

Is there a way to keep couples from drifting apart? Will adding one communication tool make a significant difference?

Tammy Lenski gives us a writing exercise to help marital couples in conflict. It should only take about seven minutes each time. That seems like an excellent use of seven minutes, to dramatically improve communication and connection between two people. I think it could also be useful in professional conflicts as well.


Here are the steps that she outlines:

How to do it

  1. The writing intervention should be done by both people in the couple.
  2. After a significant conflict, write about it from the perspective of an impartial observer who wants the best for you both. How would they describe what happened? What view would they take of the conflict?
  3. Also write about what could prevent you from adopting this “neutral observer” point of view during future marital conflicts and what you can do to overcome those obstacles.
  4. If possible, identify even a single positive aspect to the argument.




Read her post for more information on this tool here.


Or listen to her podcast of the article here.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Believe


Are you convinced about your mission? Does it drive every major decision and frame every goal?

It's not a casual concept. Believing in your mission is essential. There's no accomplishing what you set out to do unless you believe in and focus on your mission. Leadership success is no accident.

We mainly achieve what we first believe.

Believe.

-- Doug Smith



Sunday, March 5, 2017

Build Shared Goals

Few things are more powerful than shared goals.

High performance leaders find ways to establish goals that their whole team gets behind. Noble, ambitious, game-changing goals.

Once shared, they take on a power unmatched by individual goals. It's why leaders need teams. It's why high performance leaders build powerful teams.

Get the help you need, the inspiration you want, and the power that transforms. Build shared goals.

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, March 4, 2017

No Need to Shout

Leadership need not be loud.

It is often softly spoken. A quiet conversation. A gentle tap on the shoulder. The focused eyes of truly listening.

Provoking deep thought, high performance leaders provoke great actions.

And sometimes, that is quite quietly.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Develop Your Team Chemistry

Teams that enjoy spending time together are working with an advantage.

What's that advantage? The advantage of better relationships. A closely-knit team develops a quiet second language of understanding that is hard to define but easy to see. You just know. Few teams develop this second-nature way of working because they simply do not remain together longer enough for the chemistry and skill to emerge. But when it does, the team not only delivers astounding results, it enjoys doing it.

Why not enjoy achieving your results as a team? Why not develop your team chemistry, relationships, processes, goals, and results?

Build that team. You are not done.

- Doug Smith

Monday, February 27, 2017

Stay Persistently Courageous

Clarity requires courage to persist.

There are so many distractions and perspectives. People will even do their best (or worst) to cloud our vision and distort our truth. To remain clear, focused, and balanced takes large amounts of courage.

Stay clear on your values and then stay courageous about keeping them. You are not alone.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Five By Noon

Development Exercise: 

Write 5 goals for the day and achieve them all by noon.

If it's past noon now, do it tomorrow. See how it makes you feel. Then, in the wise words of the shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to Be More Accountable for the Truth

Why do we lie?

That's a compelling question worth exploring. I once read that on average we tell about 26 lies a day. That's a lot of lying. But as leaders, don't we rely on our people to tell the truth? Aren't they (and our customers, and our families!) relying on US to tell the truth?

What if it's not exactly our fault? What if we can dramatically reverse the amount of lies we tell by adding a bit of mindfulness?

I like this video. It involves behavioral science and while it would be nice to have even more research on this, I do find the evidence compelling that very often we lie unconsciously. Watch the video and see what you think.


Interesting experiment?

What opportunities can you think of where you work to wake-up the moral foundation in your people? How can you remind people that you are counting on the truth?

High performance leaders must communicate for results. That means finding, and delivering, the truth. How can you hold yourself and others accountable for the truth today?


-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Insist On Productive Meetings

Who needs bad meetings?

And yet, so often we tolerate them. We sit thru meetings where nothing is accomplished or where people are so uncomfortable that true and honest communication is avoided. It does not need to be that way.

When I have control over the outcome of a meeting, I make certain that it includes both careful planning and skillful facilitation. The planning includes:


  • The agenda
  • The goals
  • Processes for achieving each goal
  • Agreements and guidelines for how people behave during the meeting
  • Roles (facilitator, time-keeper, recorder, and whatever else the meeting needs)
  • Feedback / Evaluation
Depending on the meeting, I might add other things such as warm-up activities, breaks, refreshments (and refresher activities.)

When I do not control the meeting, I seek to influence it in advance to include those things mentioned above.

When I do not control or influence the meeting, I decide ahead of time how necessary is it for me to attend, and if the answer is "not" then my response is "don't." But I get it. Some times we are forced to go to meetings that make no sense for us and that we do not control or influence. Still, they waste our time or worse, antagonize our time and selves.

Here is one thing you can do in those cases:

Use that meeting time to leverage better future meetings.  Here's a way to do that: determine who is responsible for the meeting and ask if they would appreciate feedback on the results of the feedback. If the answer is yes, give your best feedback on ways to influence more productive meetings. Remember, stay positive. If the answer is "no" stay curious about that. Why is your feedback not important? Wouldn't more productive meetings mean better results? What if there were ways to create better meetings that everyone involved enjoyed more and worked better during?

Get better answers. Get the answer you want. Stay curious, stay open, stay curious, courageous, compassionate and clear -- and your chances of success (and enjoyment) improve dramatically.

High performance leaders insist on productive meetings. 

Shouldn't you?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, February 20, 2017

Building Your Team From Inside and Out

Teams are built from the inside - and from the outside.

I saw a message from a famous person today touting the merits of promoting from within. It build morale, it sends a clear cultural message, it motivates people on the team. That's all true. It's also true that our teams may not have every strength that we need to make it to the next level. It may be necessary to add some spice to keep growing.

Promote from within? Absolutely! AND build your team by constantly looking for talent interested in joining your cause.

Who do you know who might serve your team incredibly well, but is not yet part of your team?  Have you talked with them lately?

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Today, I Will Be Like Water

Have you ever encountered a problem that felt like a wall?

I have. I'm in the middle of one now. But today, I think I will be like water...



How you look at the wall is up to you.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, February 17, 2017

Set Your Goals Carefully

How closely aligned are your actions and your goals?

Does it even matter?

I believe that it matters a lot. When we set clear, bold goals they drive our actions forward -- AND, when we act boldly, quickly, and constantly we begin to rely more on clear goals. The two go together.

High performance leaders set goals carefully, knowing that they influence everything they do.

Set your goals carefully because they drive what you do.

And you do want to do the right things, right?

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

High Performance Leaders Use Two-Way Communication

It seems like a small detail. It's just a minor change in the process, or order date, or procedure. A simple decide-and-announce should be enough, right?

Not so fast. People in all kinds of organizations share one little thing: they do NOT like to be told what to do. People like input. People like feedback. People like to know that you are considering them. Even when there really is no choice on the direction, there is always a choice in the communication.

One-way communication invites resistance.

One-way communication stirs up chaos.

One-way communication creates uncertainty and delay.

Share your ideas. Share your thoughts. Share your proposes. And then invite responses. Welcome feedback. Listen, listen, listen.

One-way communication is sketchy. Give the conversation a chance. Talk about it.



-- Doug Smith

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Building Your Team: Help Your Team Grow

What are you providing your team to grow today?

Is it training (in your products, in your services, in the skills they need to communicate and lead more effectively?)

Is it resources? Tools? Team chemistry?

The team leader creates the team chemistry, or not. When the team leader helps build an environment of trust, growth, challenge, and support the team has the tendency to prosper through growth. When a team leader ignores or diminishes the team chemistry, it can degrade to levels of dysfunction.

Your team is dynamic. It is constantly changing. Help your team grow. Keep it focused on the vision, serving the mission, and achieving its goals. That'll make you a coach, and a good one at that.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, February 10, 2017

Building Your Team: How's Your Style?

How important is leadership style on the performance of a team?

Incredibly so. Think about the best team you've ever worked on. It was a great team because

a) you achieved your team goals, and
b) you enjoyed yourself doing it and working together

The team leader's style matters. An autocratic, micromanaging leader (I'm sure you know a few) constrains a team and stifles its motivation. In the effort to control every little detail, a leader loses the big picture.

It's in the big picture view that quantum success awaits. It's in the chemistry of the team that champions are made.

Some leaders are not micromanagers, but they aren't much of a manager at all either. So completely hands-off and quiet that the team probably forgets who is in charge. That might feel safe. That might feel friendly. But team members need two fundamental things from their leader, and neither of the above type styles deliver on both. People need:

1. the feel supported by their boss, and
2. to feel challenged by their leader

Support AND challenge. It's not one or the other.

If you build the perfect team would your current leadership style keep that team together?

Once you have all the right people in place (a temporary situation to be sure) will they stay engaged, energized, and involved in the vision and mission of the team? Your leadership style will largely decide that.

Firm, when y ou need to be firm. Tough on the task, tender on the person. Focused on the vision. And relentless in pursuit of your team's goals.

How's your style? What are you doing to develop it?

-- Doug Smith




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Building Your Team: Build Belief!

Does your team believe in itself?

Here's how you know that a team believes in itself:


  • Each person on the team can tell you the team's vision and mission
  • People are remarkably not focused on the clock
  • Smiles!
  • Team members are enthusiastic and positive
  • Team members come up with new ideas
  • Problem solving is a way of life, not a chore
A team must believe in itself to succeed. 

What are you doing to help your team believe more fully in itself?

-- Doug Smith


Help Your Team Reach Its Potential

A team's strength is often threatened by its weaknesses. High performance leaders attend to both.

Ask yourself these questions:


  • What does my team do best? 
  • How am I making the best use of my team strengths?
  • Where is my biggest team opportunity? 
  • What small flaw in my team could grow into a major problem unless we take care of it?
  • What strengths do similar teams use that we lack?
  • What are we doing today to build our team?
Team building is never done. Left ignored, a team descends. Attended to carefully and constantly built, a team may reach its potential.


-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meet Them Where They Are

Just because the boss is ready doesn't mean the team member is. The best supervisors meet people where they are.

Do you know where that is?

-- Doug Smith


Coach Unselfishly

Coaching works best when you help other people achieve their goals rather than coercing them into achieving yours.

-- Doug Smith


Monday, January 30, 2017

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

VIDEO: Drew Dudley On Leadership Values

I'm on the road, facilitating a workshop on controlling chaos, sitting in my hotel room and of course, learning. Watching videos on leadership. What else would a leadership trainer do on the road?

I started with a famous leader speaking and somehow wandered into this video by Drew Dudley. Honestly, I hadn't heard of Drew Dudley, but you should. He's inspiring. His ideas spark energy. I believe he does his best to live his values, and I love how he builds in the human element into his goals.

In the video he talks about values, about questions to ask in order to more earnestly live your values, and about making a positive difference, especially for people who so often go unrecognized and unappreciated.

Here's the video.


Yes, I know it's 17 minutes long - but go for it. Invest 17 minutes in this and you'll find a story you'll likely repeat and some insights you'll want to start using. I know I will.

Three Values Steps:


Six Questions:


Proof of how he lost 100 pounds in one year.


What Your Team Wants

Your team wants you to be a great leader even more than you do. They just might not know what that looks like -- and it's up to you to learn.

-- Doug Smith

Monday, January 23, 2017

Coach, Please!

When a team sees their supervisor as a coach they perform at a constantly improving level.

"Want a boss?"
"No thanks."
"Want a coach?"
"Yes, please!"

-- Doug Smith


Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Communicate Your Vision


Do people know your vision?

Can each member of your team clearly define the vision of the team?

Knowing where you are headed is important. It helps you prioritize. It gives the team energy. And, if you form your vision carefully enough it can make life around you very fascinating.

Go for more than interesting. Go for outrageously fascinating. Change something big. Make some noise!

-- Doug Smith

Monday, January 16, 2017

Training Matters

Avoiding training doesn't negate the need for it.

You may have felt the hammer: often the first thing cut is training. Budgets are tough, productivity is leveling off, and turnover feels stabilized by a weak job market. So senior leaders, looking to get ever tighter on the budget, cut training dollars.

Silly.

People leave organizations because:

1. They don't like their boss, and
2. They aren't trained what they are expected to do

You can get ahead of both of those problems -  as a leader get the training that you need.

If your company provides it, great. If you're in charge of it, bring it in. If your company does NOT provide it, care enough about yourself and your people to get it yourself.

Training matters.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Achieving Your Goals: Believe

Have you ever achieved anything without first believing in it?

Whenever I have trouble believing in an effort, and whenever I doubt a goal, it becomes impossible to achieve.

I'm not one of those people so optimistic that I believe you can achieve anything you believe -- to me that's nonsense. You still need the skill. You still need the training. You still need the discipline.

But even with all the skill, training, and discipline in the world you also must believe that what you intend is possible.

And then -- and then go do it.

Pick sensible goals (or go ahead, pick wildly impossible ones!) and then believe.

You will see how much more you achieve.

-- Doug Smith





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stay Both Strategic And Tactical

High performance leaders are constantly looking ahead while grounded in the now.

It's not either/or. It's not a choice between tactical and strategic or leadership and management. High performance leaders do it all and they do it all at once: looking ahead (what's the big picture and how does that shift our direction now?) and staying grounded in the now (how do we take care of the team?)

Do you tactics align with your strategy? Are you attending to both today?

-- Doug Smith


High Performance Leaders Make Their Expectations Clear

How clear are your expectations?

Does everyone on your team know what you expect from them?

Beyond the performance evaluations, beyond the goal setting sessions, do you have regular conversations with them about what you expect?

High performance leaders make their expectations clear in many areas, including:


  • goals
  • values
  • mission
  • vision (where do you see your team sometime in the future?)
  • interpersonal relationships (how do you expect team members to get along?)
  • communication standards
  • rules, regulations, agreements
You can likely think of several other areas where people simply do not know what your expectations are unless you tell them. So tell them: early and often. 

Give people half a chance to meet your expectations by letting them know what they are.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Communicating for Results: It's a Skill to Learn

Communicating for results is a constant learning experience. I've had conversations when I was absolutely clear about the message and yet a misunderstanding occurred. One of us heard something the other person didn't say. Or did. It depends on who you ask.

I've learned to be more clear, and still it can happen. I take heart in the belief that I'm still learning. How many times does a clarification need to be clarified? How will I know for sure that what I said was what was heard? Which of my own personal filters are altering the meaning of the conversation.

That's why leaders need training in communication. It's also why high performance leaders realize that it takes LOTS of communication -- not just a quick chat or an email -- to reach shared meaning. It's intentional, it's deliberate, and it's hard work.

I like this quote from Brian Tracy. Yes, communication is a skill that we can learn. And, it's a skill that we must keep learning.

-- Doug Smith


Monday, January 9, 2017

Let Go of Bad Ideas

Are you holding onto any bad ideas?

I do it all the time. Ideas creep into my mind that do me no good at all. Ideas like "you're not good enough" or "no one cares about your art" or "the only thing that matters is money." Bad, or more accurately incorrect ideas.

With so many good ideas available surely we can let go of a few bad ones.

I'm willing to work at letting go of useless ideas. How about you?

-- Doug Smith


Friday, January 6, 2017

Driving Change? Start With Agreement

High performance leaders are constantly leading new projects, asking people to change and MAKE changes. These are seldom easy tasks.

Getting people to change requires their support. If you've ever been in charge of a project, you know that all too well. People resist. People dig in. People ignore your pleads to please pull in the opposite direction. That's because a new direction is hard. It's fraught with unseen obstacles and traps. It's unfamiliar. Change stinks.

But change is necessary and it is fundamentally what high performance leaders do: drive change. Where do you start?

Start with agreement. Get people to agree on as many things as you can leading to whatever change is necessary. Get them to agree to listen. Get them agree to talk. Get them to agree to the need and POSSIBILITY of change.

Agreeing to possibilities smoothes the way, AND -- agreements lead to better possibilities. High performance don't have to come up with all the best ideas, they simply must make its possible for those ideas to emerge.

Get agreement, and support will follow.

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, January 5, 2017

High Performance Leaders Maintain Their Composure

How centered are you?

Don't ask me! That's the kind of humility-busting question that invalidates whatever answer I could muster up. Centered? Sure. How centered? It depends on when you ask.

High performance leaders stay centered. They come off their center sometimes, sure. We all do. No one is perfect. And being centered does not imply perfection. It implies control. It conveys flexibility. It denotes composure in the face of pressure.

High performance leaders maintain their composure in the face of unrelenting pressure. You know, the world that we're in.

Staying centered is a practice, a discipline, and perhaps a bit of good fortune. I'm working at it everyday. How about you?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Develop Yourself, Please



Leadership. There is no one key. It is a series of skills and strengths. Leadership seems born in some people but must be developed and - can be developed.

Leaders collaborate - they work together with their teams and with their peers.

Leaders cooperate - they cooperate with regulatory bodies, with higher ranking leaders, with peers, and even with customers. They find ways to be helpful, to serve without being subservient. It's where the science of leadership meets the art of leadership.

Leaders prevail when they continue to develop. They continue to develop through the early times, through the easy times, and through the tough times.

Leaders develop technical skills (budgeting, staffing, recruiting, solving problems) and they develop core skills. The five core skills that I find most compelling and useful are clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion plus the ability to center yourself in the use of each of those four.

- clarity: knowing your sense of direction and also your quality standards, values, vision
- courage: standing up and making the tough choice even when it's not a perfect choice
- creativity: finding new ways to solve problems, new ways to please customers, new ways to make a better world
- compassion: speaking and acting with respect and love for others, for all life (because all life matters)

These are lofty. These take a lifetime to develop. And along the way, high performance leaders continually collaborate, cooperate, and (when they stick to it) prevail. If you want to build your team into a high powered, results-producing, great place to work, try all three. Continue to develop your team by continuing to develop yourself.

Now, go out there and lead something important!

-- Doug Smith