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Showing posts from June, 2012

The Trouble with Critical Feedback

How do you respond to a situation that provides only critical feedback?

Have you ever worked with someone who only provides feedback on how you can get better, without ever acknowledging what you are doing right?

How did that feel?

We need critical feedback. We need to know which areas we can improve and how to do that. The trouble is, if that's all we receive it wears us down, wears us out and wearies us. Surely, there are some things that work. Absolutely, there are things we are doing that we should continue. We need to know those.

Critical feedback without positive feedback does more harm than good.

As high performance and centered leaders, the ratio of positive feedback to critical feedback should be 5:1.  Try it. It creates a momentum that propels performance so far forward that critical feedback may not even be necessary. Reinforce what is working and you'll get more of what is working.

What positive feedback can you provide today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Goals Require Details and Persistence

I'm working on a few goals that I just haven't accomplished yet. How about you? Do you ever get stuck and wonder what it will take to push you over the wall into the area of success you seek?

Maybe it's connected to our goals. Maybe our goals require some things from us that we just can't avoid. I've been thinking about two of them today:

1. Goals need for you to be specific about what you want to achieve, and
2. Goals need for you to persist until you achieve them.

What exactly are we looking for? What does success look like? How will we measure it?

And to quote from one of my favorite movies, "The Untouchables", "What are you prepared to do?" How long, how strong, and how unstoppably will you persist?

Let's think about that today as we go about working on our goals.

What can we do TODAY to be more specific?

What can we do TODAY to persist irresistibly?

I'd love to know how it turns out for you...

-- Douglas Brent Smith
Front Range Leade…

Problem Solving Insights

Occasionally, I like to read what's going on in the world of problem solving. It's a wild assortment. Here are some recent ones worth checking out.

Being strongly analytical, I find lots of use in this type of problem solving matrix. Lay out your solutions, list your main criteria for success, and rate the possibilities using a simple system. Whether or not you use it to decide, it makes for a great tool to generate deeper dialogue on your proposed solutions.

Sometimes, to solve a problem, you have to be willing to break stuff...from Chris Mittelstaedt at

In The Loneliness of Making Sense, scientific evidence for solving problems from either the right side of the brain or the left side posits that sticky problems require a kind of creative solution that produces the "aha" moment. Clearly, creativity does play a role in solving difficult problems. And, while collaboration and talking thru problems can be effective, sometimes the lonely work of thinking thru the…

Planned Exit

Have you ever missed your exit on a highway? Maybe you were day dreaming. Maybe the exit was poorly marked. Maybe things just got in your way. How did it make you feel?

Since I went to college in New Jersey, a congested and high traffic area, missing my exit could add many minutes to the trip. It became a lost effort. I could feel energy draining from me and anger welling up inside as a productive day became less so, all because I missed my exit.

Does your team have a planned exit?

Do they know when their work is done?

Many teams are ongoing parts of a process -- operational in nature and presumably long lasting. Other teams are part of a defined project -- they will not be around forever and should not be around any longer than  absolutely necessary. If they are, productivity drops to close to zero and time is wasted. As a high performance leader, you want more. Much more.

Providing a team with a planned exit removes more than half of personal issues.

Personalities stop clashing. Gam…

Problems Are Your Launching Pad to the Future

Are you tackling your leadership problems as they happen?

Are you getting the help you need to solve those problems.

Where we start largely determines where we head next. As leaders, it is our job to help people transition to a better future. Not the same as it is today, and so there will be adjustments, there will be changes, there will be problems. How we lead our people thru those problems will determine what their future looks like.

Since we have a choice, let's make it better. Let's take those problems head on. Let's collaborate with the people we bring along to build a better answer.

It's exciting. It's bold. It's beautiful.

Visualize. Collaborate. Solve.

What will you do today to create a better future?

-- Douglas Brent Smith