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Showing posts from April, 2009

Immediate Feedback

High performance leaders share more positive feedback than criticism, but provide corrective feedback immediately when it is needed.
They provide more positive feedback simply because by encouraging others thru each success, the team builds momentum. They provide more positive feedback because they know that people respond to direction that reinforces their efforts. They provide more positive feedback because it works.
Corrective feedback cannot be ignored. When people are veering away from the standards, when their habits are becoming unproductive, when they are missing their goals, when they are creating problems for others -- the feedback must be precise and immediate.
How are you are providing necessary feedback?
What percentage of your feedback providing is positive as compared to corrective?  Why do you think that is?

How can you increase the percentage of positive feedback that you provide?

-- Douglas Brent Smith
Learn more in the workshop: Communicating for Results

Learning Compassion

If you aren't learning compassion with your organization, study someplace else. Then bring back what you learn.
Have you ever been involved in a heartless organization? It's hard to figure out. It's not a person so how can it feel so heartless and cold. Where is the emotion? Where is the compassion? Why does it seem like people are treated like numbers. 
People matter more than profits. When you find yourself in an organization that gets that reversed, or that simply provides no evidence of compassion you have some work to do.
You may not need to leave (although given the proper opportunity, you may choose to do that), but you do need to find a sense of heart someplace else. Study someplace else. Gather with people who care. Learn the many lessons of compassion. Then bring those lessons back and introduce compassion to your organization.
You'll feel better. Your organization will improve. 
Are you learning more about compassion in your organization?

Your courage is up to you

Your courage is up to you. That's what makes it courage.

When we admire it the most in others it pays to remember who difficult it was to sustain. The more difficult the situation is, the more it calls for courage and the more you need to rely on your inner reserves and character to produce that courage.
If you wait until you NEED your courage to develop it, what makes you think it will be available?
Like the muscles an athlete develops to perform a sport -- courage takes steady and incremental growth. We should be working on it everyday by taking on new challenges, facing down confrontations of opportunity, standing by our values, helping those who can not help themselves.
Your courage is up to you.
What will you do today to build your courage?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Dealing with Complaints

A complaint is a call to action. Take it.
Our pastor, Warren Napier, yesterday offered an unusual call to action during his sermon: go 24 hours without complaining. Look at the positive side, keep yourself busy, take productive action, reframe the whatever you need to do but do not complain. 

It sounds easy, but I was hardly out of the church parking lot when I felt a complaint coming on about something that happened around Saturday night's show in a play I'm acting in. I caught myself (or did I?) but the thought then occurred to me that whether or not I voiced the complaint, something should be done.  
Maybe I don't need to trouble anyone else about it, but for it to bubble up as something I found disturbing meant that I should take some action to deal with it. Otherwise, the issue stays (and grows).
A complaint is a call to action. Take it.
It's not enjoyable to receive a complaint. We will sometimes do anything to avoid doing anything about it. Sometimes I…

Adding value

Centered leaders add value instead of dividing it.

Do you know any leaders who bicker about who is in charge of what and who has what authority? How does it feel to work with them?  
Do you know any leaders who focus on the vision of the ultimate outcome and do their best to contribute at every stage, without worrying about who gets the credit and who's in charge?  
Centered leaders add value because they know that in the long run, that's the true sweet spot. Adding value, instead of dividing it up and attaching their name to every major accomplishment, has a longer shelf life and better flavor.  
What are you doing to add value to your organization today? 
-- Douglas Brent Smith


Mountains never stop growing; why should we?

It came as a surprise to me to learn that the Rocky Mountains are still growing. Trimmed a bit by years of erosion, they are still poking their way skyward and changing in the direction of growth.  
As leaders we find ourselves faced with the dynamic between growth and erosion, life and decay. Standing still leads to the less desirable choice. Growth requires our attention, our efforts, our drive. Growth requires the courage to step forward, the creativity to find new ways of dealing with challenges, the clarity of purpose to know which direction you are growing in and the compassion to forgive those who slow you down.  
What are you doing to spark your leadership growth today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Centering Your Goals

Are your goals centered on your purpose? 

It's easy to form a massive list of unrelated goals. Before you know it your focus is scattered across an undefined landscape. What do you do first? How do you prioritize?
The time to focus is at the start. Can you align each and every goal to your purpose, your vision? People often tell me during a workshop that it's not possible. "My supervisor gives me my goals" they might say, or "Upper management decides what our goals are and if they're not related that's my problem..."
What do you do about that?
How about making every goal centered conversation a centered conversation. Bring in your key leadership skills. Be clear about your purpose. If your boss isn't clear, ask and help to clarify (yes, you really can do this).
Get creative in your approach to your goals. If it's not aligned obviously with your vision, what ways can you move it in the direction of better alignment? How can you optimize your new g…

Your Next Step To Success

If your next step to success is too big, ask for help. 

Too many times we stop short of a goal or shy away from a 
plan because it seems too big. It is easy to get 
overwhelmed. But that doesn't have to be the end of the 

The next time you feel yourself pulling back because you 
think it's all too much, look around and take inventory of 
your relationship resources. Who do you know who can help?

Centered Leaders Provide Roots and Wings

Centered leaders provide roots AND wings -- Patiently.  

Your people need stability AND they need constant growth. Standing still is not an option. Everyone on your team needs to be able to feel "at home" on the team while also preparing to fly at the next opportunity.  Developing your people through your conversations, your projects, and your coaching is what keeps them engaged. It boosts productivity, quality, and morale. 
How you do it is up to you. Leaders who retain their best people create an environment where performance is rewarded and people are accepted as both team players and unique individuals. The fully rounded team has traditions AND processes for transformation. The happy team has healthy relationships AND ambitions for growth. People spending time with your team should feel that it has been the most rewarding yet challenging days of their life so far. Is that easy? Not usually, but it is always worth the effort.

Are you creating roots?  
Are you helping your peo…

Is Micro-Management Ever The Answer?

I found something I'd never seen before in a job ad today. It's something to think about. Listed as a job requirement, it said that the job candidate must have:
"The ability and personality type to work in a micro - managed environment until you have built up a trust level with the people you support."

What kind of work environment does that imply?
It certainly gets points for honesty. Any new hire will know exactly what to expect: specific instructions, close direction, careful follow-up, and tight requirements.
But wait -- while a seasoned professional might not need that level of micro-management, and while transformational, participative leaders allow lots of autonomy and choice, let's consider the needs of a new employee. Someone new to an organization may not be ready for unsupervised decision making because they're too busy adjusting to the culture, learning the job, creating new relationships, practicing new skills, and doing important tasks.  Maybe a str…

Harmony or Discord

Centered leaders know when to facilitate harmony or stir up discord. Balancing challenge and support is an art.

We all know leaders who specialize in one or the other -- they either always seek to restore harmony or it seems like they are always challenging, always stirring up trouble. Either approach can fatigue a team quickly and prevent efficiency.  
Centered leaders may want harmony but realize that complacency or stasis is never the answer. Sometimes it's necessary to stir things up. Done positively, and with kindness, this is a high performance behavior. Done carelessly or callously, this is disaster.  
Challenging leaders realize that people can get tired of being challenged and that sometimes the waves are too rough to sail. Sometimes a leader must find ways to restore stability and create a more harmonious environment. It's more art than science -- and that takes creativity.  
How are you at stirring up a challenge when it's needed?  
When was the last time you helpe…

Finding The Truth

If we can't agree on the truth, let's agree on the possibility.

Do you ever struggle with someone over the truth of a situation? It may not be that anyone is concealing anything, you just disagree on the facts, and that impacts your feelings.
Leadership brings with it responsibility to keep focus. To achieve a set of ambitious goals requires steady agreement on who will do what and to what purpose.  Sometimes details get in the way. Sometimes people don't even agree on what the truth is.
If we start with the premise that it is possible to agree on the truth we can begin a dialogue that gets us there. It all starts with the possibility.
Can you agree on the possibility of mutually agreed truth?
Is there some place today that you could explore this?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn more in the workshop: Communicating for Results