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Showing posts from August, 2009

Everything is Connected

Everything is connected. Creativity helps us to find how those connections can make us more productive.

See things anew. Finds details out of context. Alternate details and flip the expectations. New connections exist everywhere, waiting to be discovered. Discover them.

Mix. Match. Combine. Deconstruct. Merge. See, touch, hear and play with new connections. Work like a painter to mix the colors from the pallet of your own design. Develop every ounce of creativity you can and build from there.

How will you explore and exploit new connections today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

The Essential Question

The essential question is "How can I help?"

This is a question for everyone, and especially for leaders. In your vision, in your purpose, in your mission, in your goals, how can you help to make this a better world -- not just for yourself but for everyone at no cost to anyone?

It's an ethical and moral standard that has been beyond the reach of most leaders but that is critically important in an evolving world.

How can you help make this a better world, for everyone at no cost to anyone?

That doesn't mean no cost in money, time or effort. Of course those expenses must be made. What it means is that as a leader never exploiting anyone in order to advance your agenda.

Because not only is exploitation ethically shaky, it inevitably produces side effects that negate your progress.

What will you do today to answer the essential question?

-- Doug Smith

Collaborative Conversations

Centered leaders make every conversation meaningful, open, and honest to collaborate on success.

Effective collaboration requires deeper conversations. With tight budgets, moving deadlines, and new challenges every day, leaders who make the best use of their interpersonal relationships do so by creating conversations that contain shared meaning. The fastest route to shared meaning includes openness (no hidden agendas) and a radical kind of honesty with no room for deception.

Once people have established comfortable, assertive foundations built on curiosity and respect, collaboration flows quickly and powerfully toward achieving goals.

Isn't that what you as a leader truly want?

What can you do today to create meaningful, open, and honest conversations?

Who do you need to have a deep conversation with today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

The Power of Observation

To start improving someone's performance, simply watch them perform their job.

Let them know that you'll be watching, and then watch. If your relationship is strong enough to share feedback, that will enhance the performance even more, but it's not necessary at first. You will likely see improved performance simply by observing.

Why do people perform better when being watched? It puts them on notice that their performance is important. It provides focus. It creates a reason to work at their best.

You might not want to do this everyday, but it's an excellent performance tool occasionally. You might even try doing the job to see where some of the process and procedure issues are. You might be surprised.

When was the last time you observed one of your team member's performance?

What are you doing to improve the performance of your team?

Who on your team would benefit from your observations?

-- Doug Smith

Spending Time

The best way to understand and motivate your employees is to spend more time with them.

As a leader, your employees are always watching. They've watching to see what you do. Do you walk your talk? Do you live your values? And, most importantly, do you care about your employees?

There is a myth about parenting called quality time and some managers try the same tactic with their employees. Here's the reality: there is no substitute for real time. Quantity time. You can't cram all of your relationship into bite sized pieces and expect it to amount to much more than a bite.

Do you want to communicate to your employees that you truly care about their goals, their careers, and their lives?

Do you want your employees to be highly motivated and energized?

Spend lots of time with each of them. There simply is no substitute.

How much time have you spent with individual employees today?

Who on your team have you been ignoring? What can you do to spend more time with them? When will you do t…

Setting Rules

Any rule that is stupid enough will be widely broken.

As a leader, are you careful about the rules you set?

Leaders are often tempted to establish control where they see chaos. "What these people need are some strict rules..." The problem is, how would you feel about living with rules set by someone else that totaly restricted your flexibility at doing your job?

Sure, rules are necessary. How you arrive at those rules though is critical. Are you involving your people? Are you allowing for change? Are you building in flexibility? Are your rules in harmony with your vision and your values?

I remember a great line from an old TV show starring Ed Asner, "Lou Grant". He once said "I don't have a lot of rules because then I just have to enforce them..." which sums up the problem with rules. Lou Grant was a role model for the classic tough boss, but what we came to know as an audience was that he also had a heart of gold. He was using his heart when he real…

Drop Your Bias and Enjoy a Bigger Banquet

Do you have a bias?

We all lock ourselves in untenable perspectives occasionally. The more we look, the less we see from any other perspective than our own. Unless we drop our bias. Unless we take the time to understand another view of the situation and another way of doing things.

You can always have your bias back. It's not like it's going to run away and hide from you. You know where to find it.

But once you've truly understand more possibilities you might not want it back at all.

Go ahead. Drop your bias. See what you can see.

It's essential for communicating for results. It's essential for leading with integrity.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Staying Curious

Curiosity is the key to uncovering possibilities.

How curious are you? Do you find yourself asking questions most of the time or is your mind made up and so you simply express your (obviously correct) point of view?

To develop your creativity, to uncover possibilities, to explore your total potential, staying curious is absolutely essential.

None of us has all the answers. Curiosity opens us up to worlds we haven't seen, formulas we haven't tried, and relationships we haven't formed. Curiosity is the key to uncovering possibilities.

How do you demonstrate curiosity in your job?

How does it feel to hold your own opinion aside long enough to ask curious questions?

What will you do today to ask with curiosity at your center?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

To Stop Lying To Yourself

Do you tell the truth no matter what?

It's only possible to tell the truth once you stop lying to yourself.

Why would you ever lie to yourself?

We do it all the time: little rationalizations to make us feel better. Sometimes we lie to ourselves about our intentions. For example, every time we say "I'll try to do that" we're lying to ourselves. Try is not a commitment. Trying is not doing. To avoid the rationalization, make the strong commitment that you will do something. You do know whether or not you can, so the commitment is all in your will.

When else do we lie to ourselves? Sometimes our limiting beliefs lie to us about our capabilities. Rather than constantly testing ourselves, we may give in to the belief that a task or project is too big. In that way, our own lies (because it's never too big if you really aim to do it) stand in our way, paper barriers to our success that hold with the strength of concrete. It doesn't need to be like that.

To tell …

Leadership Briefs

Quick reads on leadership that are relevant to the ideas of centered leadership and high performance leadership:

New Management Training Could Lead To Improved Worker Health

By learning how to be more supportive of family and personal lives, leaders engage and support their teams in ways that lead to better productivity and lower turnover. Sound good?

“Managing in a more supportive way that recognizes how important flexibility is to today’s work force is a win-win economic proposition that benefits employers, workers and families,” Kossek said. “Employees no longer leave their family needs at the company doorstep.”

Question To Know How You Are Smart
Practical Tactics from Neuro Discoveries with Dr. Ellen Weber

Explores how we are all intelligent (and gifted) in different ways and beyond that, Dr. Weber offers some great questions for developing the areas of intelligence you'd like to grow. Useful and fascinating. For example,

"3. Do you frequent musical performances, compose n…

Choose A Loving Response

No matter what the circumstances, we are always free to choose a loving response.

Should leaders operate out of love?

The larger question, since leaders are human, is "should people operate out of love?"

What does it mean to operate out of love? What does it look like to choose a loving response no matter what the circumstances?

When things happen around us we can choose to react. How we react may determine what happens from that point on. Often as leaders we are tested with tough circumstances. We can be tempted to react out of aggression, out of competitiveness, out of revenge. But any study of literature or history will show us where that leads. Our actions touch others, and others touch us. What we initiate hits us as it perpetuates.

Beyond that and the effects it has on us, choosing a loving response simply does more good. Helping others, feeling compassion for others feels better and does better. Whether or not it comes naturally, the impact is better.

Try it today. No matte…

Finding Respect

Find the dignity in each of the people around you and they can't help but reciprocate.

It's there. People do what they know how to do and try their best. When they fall short, leaders can be patient guides to help them back on track. But, there's joy and honor in the struggle. Respecting intent as well as actions helps people to develop.

Occasionally, when the intent is not there, granting credit for better intent can spark it to life. Which has worked best for you - assuming the best of people or assuming otherwise?

People have wonderful dignity inside and sometimes it's just waiting to emerge. Can you recognize that below the surface? Can you see the dignity in each of us?

Find the dignity in each of the people around you and they will quietly return the favor.

Cultivate respect - you will like the results.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Fill 'Er Up

Fill up before you're empty. Start by developing yourself every day.

Have you ever run out of gas? It changes your whole day. It wastes time and ruins schedules.

Have you ever found out that you needed fuel just when you had the least amount of time to find it? Maybe you were in a hurry to a meeting, or to a date, or to a client appointment. Suddenly, with no time to spare, there you are on "E".

Not only can that happen with your car -- it can happen with your personal leadership development as well.

Fill 'er up early. Keep developing. Keep learning. Fill up your emotional and intellectual tanks before they're empty.

What will you do today to fill up your tank?

-- Douglas Brent Smith