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


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Say The Hard Thing

I know what it's like to work in a profit-at-any-cost environment. Money rules in that kind of culture and steers decisions so that they all bend toward making ever more money.

Is that always the right choice?

Of course not. It's hard to take another view, especially working in that environment, but until we as a people start making decisions based as much on what is right, and fair, and true, and human we will not long prosper.

It's hard to be a whistle-blower and report a wrong-doing. We can even be wrong in our perception of what is wrong that we are reporting. We should still report it. We should say what must be said but that begs not to be said. When we hold our words because the ramifications are bad for our career, for our wallet...how can we be sure that any of our decisions have any integrity at all.

Say the hard thing. Report the violation. Keep your integrity intact. Lies told by silence are often the most troubling and trouble-provoking. Silence can be not only damaging but deadly.

When we become afraid to say something because it might cost us money it probably should be said.

-- Doug Smith

Monday, January 2, 2017

First We Define Our Goals, And Then...

What do you think your biggest goal says about you?  Is it noble enough? Is it ambitious enough? Does it define something vital about you?

We all have goals. The most responsible among us write those goals down and create action plans to achieve them.  I've learned to be careful about my goals, because as I am defining them, guess what? -- they define me, too.

Same for you.

Set goals that you are proud of. Set goals that push you to achieve them. Set goals that make this a better place to be.

I'm willing to work on that. How about you?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Start Listening More

Where does leadership communication start?

Is it in what you say? Is it in how you project your leadership presence?

I think leadership communication starts with listening.

Listening to your customers. Listening to your team members. Listening to your peers.

Think about how short on supply we all are on listening. People talk all day long, broadcast their message, sell their wares...but how often do we each truly felt listened to.

Listen carefully. Listen with curiosity. Listen without judging.

Start with listening.

-- Doug Smith