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Showing posts from February, 2013

No Fear of Goals

Have you ever seen anyone get close to achieving a goal and then step away? They back off just short of getting the goal done. While many factors came seem like barriers and keep us from achieving our goals, sometimes it's fear. Fear of change.

Fear of goals is fear of change.

Things will be different. Standards may change. Expectations will increase. The bar will be raised on performance. Achievement will advance. Performance will need to improve.

But achievement must advance. Performance must improve. Stasis doesn't work for us. We need to keep moving, keep growing, keep changing. Setting ambitious goals and then achieving them helps us get where we should be going.

Don't fear your goals. Achieve them.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Shared Understanding

How can you be sure that what you just said was understood?

Isn't it enough when they nod their head?

Isn't it enough when they say yes?

Maybe. And then again maybe not.

Building shared understanding requires the time to explore your meaning in some detail. Agreement is unsteady unless their is understanding behind it. Before I honor that promise to cut your lawn, I really ought to know whether your lawn is a quarter acre, or twenty square smiles. Before you agree to call me on Thursday we both should understand what time zone we're going to be talking in.

Effective communication reaches a clear, shared understanding.

Understanding includes:

- details
- facts
- emotionsc- intention
- conditions
- circumstances
- environment
- deal breakers
- relationships

... and more. It depends on the message. What I've found is that most people do not go deep into the message to truly know if they've achieved both understanding and agreement. Usually as leaders we need both. Agre…

Cleverly Resisted Learning

Did you ever hide from a lesson?

Have you ever had a truth revealed right in front of you but wouldn't let it shine?

Sometimes we know what we should know but keep running away from it. Maybe it's our true vocation. Maybe it's a relationship we know is over but keep stringing along. Or, maybe it's that relationship that is more than we will admit.

Maybe it's a place we live and need to move on. Maybe it's a mistake we keep repeating -- like starting jobs that aren't meant for us or driving cars that we don't even like.

It could be staying with a project long after the value has been squeezed out of it and it no longer makes sense. We've seen this before, why don't we shut the project down and move on? Why don't we go to our sponsor and say that the triple constraints are blown, the goal is out of reach, and the project is a dog?

Some of our most useful lessons are at first vigorously resisted.

But we can learn. We can grasp the obvious. We c…

Trusting Someone

Do you have someone you can tell anything to?

Are you also willing to listen to anything that they have to say to you? Even when it is about you?

Centered leaders build the kinds of relationships that are filled with open and honest communication. And some of those relationships are more meaningful, more close than others. Since leaders require honest feedback -- the kind that doesn't spare any feelings because the feelings are already secure -- it's important to build a relationship with a trusted advisor. Someone you trust more than anyone else because you are sure that they always have your best interests in mind.

A trusted advisor is reliable even when you disagree.

Reliable as a friend. Reliable as unselfish in the moment. Reliable in looking out for your best interests.

And when you disagree you can do that with respect, with compassion, and with honesty. It's possible that your advisor is wrong. And isn't it also possible that they are right?

-- Douglas Brent Smi…

Hold Onto Your Vision

How firm are you in your commitment to your vision?

In my over 25 years of business I have read hundreds of visions that were so abstract that they couldn't inspire even the most dedicated of followers. Or, they were so long that no one could remember them. And, don't assume that the upper executives do a better job of remembering and embracing their company vision, because many of them can't remember them or distinguish them from those of other companies.

It doesn't have to be that way.

You can have a memorable, actionable, vision that inspires you and others. Something that you can really get your figurative arms around and love. Something that instantly explains who you are as an organization. If you don't have that already, I urge you to do whatever it takes to get it. Keep it short (frankly, ten words is long enough and shorter is even better). Keep it specific. Make it count.

Keep listening to others in your organization. Find out what your customers are look…

Overcoming Obstacles

What stands in your way? What prevents you from achieving your goals?

The bigger your goal, the more likely that obstacles will spring up. Sometimes they are very real and very formidable. At other times they simply look formidable but amount to small walls that are easily overcome -- once the effort is made.

How do you overcome an obstacle?

The first step is to recognize it. Acknowledge it. Admit it. And then clearly define what exactly it is that is standing in your way.

Did you put it there? Is it something that you secretly want and so have done nothing to overcome? Did someone else put it there and was it intentional or not? What function does the obstacle play? Will anyone else miss that thing standing in your way if you get rid of it once and for all?

Will you need help? Will you stay with the effort even if working toward overcoming that obstacle brings about side effects?

The art of leadership is overcoming the obstacles to your plan without creating harm.

If your solution hu…

Expanding Your Influence

How wide is your circle of influence?

Do you have someone you can call to help you solve a problem, no matter what that problem is?

We're faced as leaders with accomplishing great things. We're faced constantly with doing more with less, with improving performance, with making things better, smarter and faster. None of that is easy. Little of that can be done alone. We need help.

High performance leaders are always expanding their influence. 

Developing relationships.
Doing favors.
Listening intently.
Lending a helping hand.
Supporting worthy organizations.
Achieving noble goals.
Helping other people with their projects.
Constantly learning.
Taking responsibility.

Those types of things are much more important than a latest blog posting or tweet. Face to face human help is priceless and builds our influence -- not so that we can help our own careers, but so that we can join in doing great things to make this a better world.

Sound good to you?

What can you learn today that will h…

Work on Influence

What is the most important tool for a leader? How can a project manager herd all the cats needed to get the project done to specification, on budget, and on time?

Through influence. Building strong relationships able to respond quickly to needs. Delivering constantly on promises so that promised are owed. Helping others and thanking them meaningfully when they help you.

The most important tool for a project manager is influence.

Understanding people so that they will take the time to understand you. Figuring out what they are about so that what you are about matters. Appealing to a person's desires not to manipulate them but because you sincerely care about those desires, those dreams, those visions

What are you doing to build influence today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Beyond Uncertainty

Do you ever find yourself polarized, stuck where you are, because where you are going seems so uncertain?

Should you take that big step, make that big decision, launch that unstoppable change?

Leadership is often filled with uncertainty. We don't quite know the outcome. We feel that twinge of doubt or fear. Centered leaders push forward.

What we can't be uncertain about is our ability to prevail. We must be certain that in finding our balance, finding our center, and seeking noble goals that we will achieve what is best. It may not even be always what we planned for, but we will find better outcomes.

Centered leaders show the courage to move forward when the outcome is uncertain.

With solid values. With centered focus. With calm resolve. Persistence pays, when courage takes the wheel.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Bring Out The Best in Your Team

Did you ever wish for a different team? Maybe a team with all of the top talent. Maybe a team with perfect dynamics and top performers who achieved every goal and drove you to new places.

Of course.

We want high performance teams. We want to achieve our goals. We want innovation that old teams never achieved and current teams seam to struggle with. Still, our team is our team.

Short of dismantling it and starting over (which some leaders do choose to do) it is up to us instead to help our team grow into the team we are most proud of. The team of our own dream.

The art of leadership is making the most of the team that you have.

All of its strengths. All of its challenges. All of its capacity.

Centered leaders guide their teams to the next level of success. We don't simply ride on their backs barking orders. We must go the distance. We must:

- coach them patiently
- involve them constantly
- empower them fearlessly
- account for them vigorously
- inspire them courageously
- forgive …

What You Do

What you do matters.

How you solve problems, how you achieve your goals -- it all fits into the big picture somehow. It all goes to your own answers to the big questions. What will you do today about that?

Will the world have more or fewer problems because of what you do?

That's something I'll be thinking about today. How about you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith