Friday, May 22, 2009

Building Your Team's Talents and Gifts

Effective leaders help their people discover and develop their gifts.

They do this by paying attention, assessing, holding deeper conversations, and most of all asking their people what energizes them and what they enjoy doing.

Leaders who can match the work to be done with the gifts of their people find much more success in achieving their goals.

What are you doing today to learn more about your people's gifts, skills, and talents?

What can you do that will help each person you work with to take their talents and gifts to the next level of excitement?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn more in the workshop: Building Your Team 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Essential Question

The essential question is "How can I help?"

Whether you are the leader of thousands or completely on your own, your role on this planet is to help, to make things better. Usually, that means helping other people.

Kings, rulers, athletes, artists, government officials, doctors, fire fighters, deli workers, mechanics, economists...we are all here to help.

Sometimes it doesn't feel that way. Sometimes we feel the need to be served instead. But whatever the situation, no matter what the organization, high performance leaders know that their role is to help.

Reflection Questions

How can you be most helpful?

What situations are you facing right now where you have not yet asked the question, "how can I help?"

Who do you remember the most for being ready to jump in and find a way to help? How did they make you feel? How engaged and happy did they seem to be?

Action Plan

Within the next 24 hours, find a situation and ask yourself "how can I help?" ... and then follow-through by helping.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Are you willing to be coached?

To best coach other people, we must first be willing to be coached as well.

Your credibility as a coach comes in part from your reactions to coaching. People will be more responsive to your feedback and advice once they know that you are also open to it.

Who is your coach?

Who can you ask for feedback today?

Who is watching you to see if you can be coached?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn more in the workshop:  Improving Performance 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Expanding Capacity

High performance leaders expand capacity by constantly developing their people.

How does your team grow? How can you get more done with less? There are many answers to the question of increasing capacity and responsible leaders explore them all, including improving processes and design. It's also important to constantly develop your people

People who feel valued and who are constantly growing develop new ideas. They fix problems. They engage in processes and structures and find better ways to get things done. People who are developing stop tolerating defects and instead work toward optimizing their environment. They raise their capacity and increase the value of the team.

What are you doing to develop your people?

How much more capacity could your team have with people who were fully engaged, truly energized, and growing?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn more in the workshop:  Building Your Team  

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Leadership Decisions

Decision making is never a burden when leaders share the load. 

Leadership decisions can be made in many ways. Often, the situation determines which type of method a leader uses to make a decision. Some ways include:

Decide and announce: the leader does all the work, makes the complete decision, and hopes that everyone follows. This method is useful in a crisis (like a fire fighter captain at a fully involved blaze) and less useful in other situations (for example, picking an organizational strategy for next year).

Consult and then decide: the leader talks to key people, gather information, and makes the decision. Sometimes that decision is close to what others have recommended, and sometimes it isn't. This method is useful when the decision is complicated and technical in an area where the leader has authority but not all of the expertise. The method fails if the leader consults the wrong people or disregards all advice without ever explaining the rationale for the final decision.

Vote: the leader proposes some choices and the constituents vote on which decision to implement. This can be effective if you want to reach a very large and geographically disbursed constituency -- say, for instance a general election. It is less effective with small teams because elections produce winners and losers -- and the losers don't tend to support the winners.

Collaborate to reach consensus: the leader meets with the key constituents and provides guidelines for the issue. Often an independent facilitator is brought in to conduct the session. The group agrees to support the final decision whether or not they all agree that it is the best solution. This agreement is critical to the success of a consensus decision. This method is highly effective for building teams and for reaching large decisions that require the support and involvement of most people. The challenges to consensus are that it takes time and must be skillfully facilitated to avoid a false election atmosphere or executive fiat decisions when the process bogs down.

Which decision process should leaders use? The classic answer is that it always depends on the situation. My recommendation is to use as much involvement of your people as time and resources allow. Not only will you make a higher quality decision, but you won't have to sell something that people have decided on themselves.

Are you including your people in your decisions?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn more in the workshop:  Supervising for Success

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Professional, Patient, Persistent, and Powerful

Professional, patient, persistent, and powerful.

Those are four traits worth focusing on as a leader. Combined with what it takes to be a centered leader (courage, compassion, creativity, and clarity) these four "p's" can drive a leader forward in performance and results.

Are you professional?

Paying attention to details, keeping an appropriate appearance for your line of work, meeting deadlines, installing quality, treating others as the professional you aspire to be -- these are all marks of leading as a professional. What would you add to the list?

Are you patient?

Leaders are often faced with difficult situations at exactly the wrong time. Without surrendering to lower standards, leaders must remain patient with people and circumstances. How else should leaders demonstrate patience?

Are you persistent?

Patience begs persistence. While high performance leaders have the capacity to remain patient under stress, they are also doggedly persistent. Nothing should stand in the way of remaining true to your values, your vision, your purpose. Leaders need to be persistent with standards, goals, and optimism. What else can you think of that requires a leader's persistence?

Are you powerful?

Where does a leader's' power originate? It's not only in position or authority (although that is certainly a factor in most organizations) and it's not only thru influence. A leader's power also comes from character -- what makes the leader unique and also noble. Filled with integrity and strong in principles that allow a leader to remain centered while balancing the critical qualities of courage, creativity, clarity, and compassion. Can you feel your own sense of power? Where does it come from? Where will it take you?

Spend some time today reflecting on how you develop and utilize the four "p's" in your life as a leader: professional, patient, persistent, and powerful.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Recruiting Talent

Want to recruit the best talent? Show appreciation for the talent that's already on your team.

People will notice whether or not the talent on your team is appreciated. So often leaders go looking for the best talent available without recognizing the talent that is already there.  Bringing in "high powered" talent without developing the talent that exists already is a costly mistake that is paid for in lower morale, diminishing productivity, or worse.

How are you at appreciating the talent that's already on your team?

What do you do to show your appreciation for talent and effort?

What are you doing to develop the talent on your team?

Are you developing a sense of shared leadership and personal responsibility? If not, where will that come from?