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Showing posts from 2014

Centered leaders act!

Do you have great ideas you've never implemented?

Most of us do. They come to us at odd times. They float thru our minds in the middle of doing something else. They emerge as suggestions for that project action plan but never quite make the plan.

And we have great intentions, too. We'll improve our performance. We'll create better teams. We'll make a better world. Tomorrow. When our ideas are ready.

Our ideas are ready. The time to act is now. Let's put our best ideas into motion and when we find their weaknesses make the corrections in motion.

People will remember what you've done, not what you meant to do.

What will you do today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Help That Struggling Team Member

Are you dealing with one or more struggling team members? Does it seem like nothing works to improve their performance? Have they been struggling long enough to try your patience?

Any leader with a large enough team (and sometimes, that's only two people) will be faced with struggling team members. Maybe they don't keep their promises. Maybe they miss their deadlines. Maybe they seem disengaged.

Centered leaders find out why a team member is struggling and then help them to improve -- or move on.

As tough as that may be, sometimes the best thing that a struggling team member can be helped to do is to move on. But that is not the default strategy. Start by helping. Start by listening. Start by focusing on the struggling team member's goals.

Those goals may need to be re-calibrated. Deadlines might be moved. Additional team members may be brought in to help. When centered leaders stay curious and flexible a struggling team member can navigate thru that struggle. Sometimes (I&…

David Encounters A Young Man In Need

This is another guest entry from my friend and fraternity brother David Spiegel. He's got a lot of great ideas and every once in a while he hits one out of the park and it compels me to share what he has to say. Today's one of those times. Here's David:

Once again on this "How Am I Doin' Friday" I am writing later in the day. And once again the day has influenced what I am writing about. My day started out with a gift of some extra time. My new smart phone allows me to check my emails and bank balances from bed as I drink my first morning coffee! Cool beans!
I accidentally scheduled my training for 7 instead of 7:30 today so I was not able to work with Kieth when I showed up at 7:30. No big.....I still got in a decent workout.
On my way home,about a block from my house, I saw a young man laying half on the curb and half on the road,his friend standing helplessly over him.. I pulled over to see if I could be of assistance.Cars continued whizzing by,honking at me …

Centered Leaders Stay On The Record

Have you ever been asked to share a confidence, "off the record"?

Do you? Sometimes it happens so quickly that we don't even react in time to stop from going "off the record" to share a secret, a detail, or a comment that could at some point cause trouble.

We see it in the movies, on TV, and in our daily lives -- people who say that this is "off the record".

There's no such thing as off the record.

Everything is part of the record. Anything and everything can be dug up, subpoenaed, recalled, and shared. So when we say that something is off the record all we really mean is that we'd rather not have it generally known. There's little to stop it from hitting the record as soon as it becomes useful to someone.

Centered leaders operate with the respect, dignity, and compassion to realize that anything said that could harm someone is probably better left unsaid. Everything is on the record. All truth emerges. Everything bubbles to the top eventua…

Perception Frames Your Problem

How do you know for sure if something is a problem?

If you see it as a problem, then it is a problem.

Your perception will tell you -- not reality, but what you consider important about your reality. If you see it as a problem, shouldn't you do something about it?

Centered problem solving sorts through our perceptions and checks in with the perceptions of other people who are effected by the situation. Emotions can trigger misconceptions, so centering ourselves and testing our assumptions is key.

Then, if it's still a problem, it's time to do something about it.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Bring our Centered Problem Solving workshop to your location and dramatically increase the problem solving skills of the people who attend.

Do You Create Noble Goals?

Do you have a list of goals? If that list is short enough you could be working on those goals every day. I am most driven by noble goals.

Noble goals serve to help other people without causing harm to anyone. They are both courageous and compassionate. They are equally creative and clear. Most importantly, they create wins without creating losses.

One of my goals is to help as many people as possible achieve as many noble goals as possible as quickly as possible.

How about you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

If you're interested in learning more about how to achieve your goals, check out our webinar here.

A Sign To Learn

What's your reaction when you find yourself in conflict and yet you are absolutely sure that you're right?

Do you dig in on your position? Do you redouble your efforts to convince everyone of your position?
Or do you stay curious? Do you stay open to learning?

The more certain I am that I'm right the greater the opportunity there is to learn.

The next time you are absolutely sure that you're right try asking yourself -- what can I still learn here?

It could change everything.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Advance Your Learning

How is your growth cycle going? Are you learning the skills it takes to solve the problems you encounter -- and will encounter in the future?

Problems require us to advance our knowledge and expand our training.

What's your next area for training?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Bring our Centered Problem Solving workshop to your location and dramatically increase the problem solving skills of the people who attend.

Confidence or Humility?

Is it possible to be confident and humble at the same time?

I think that it is not only possible, it's necessary. Centered leaders find that balance between confidence in their ability (and the capacity of their teams) and humility as an imperfect, learning individual and organization. It's not an either/or choice.

So much of centered leadership is coming to peace with the dynamic reality that in life we have endless possibilities and they don't imply either/or choices most of the time. We can bend. We can blend. We can mend and grow.

There is a tough yet necessary balance point between confidence and humility.

What will you do to help you find it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Talk Your Problem Over

Can we talk about it?

When a problem is bothering you, can you share that trouble? Do you have people who will listen without judging to your concerns? Do you know a confidante who will hold your secret fears in trust long enough to hear them out?

Problems require communication. Deep communication. Listening with curiosity. Speaking with clarity. Knowing what matters and keeping focus on the clear boundaries of a larger vision. Problems are part of the journey, why not make them part of the conversation.

The bigger the problem, the greater the need for deeper conversations.

Talk your problem over. Build the relationships you need to deal effectively and with respect to the problems at hand. That's how it works best.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Curious? Explore our workshop Centered Problem Solving.

When You Are Truly All In

Is there any problem that you would give anything to solve?

Fortunately, we aren't all so obsessed (and I use that in a positive way) with a single problem that it is all that we can think about, all that we can work on. But what if there were such a problem in your life? How would you react? What would you do?

We have before us no end of problems begging for noble solutions. World hunger. War. Pollution. Energy. Boundaries. Education. Problems bigger than any single person.

Have you embraced one major problem with the intent of making a positive difference?

What problem would you give your life to solve?

Take you time, you don't need to answer that this minute. But you probably do need to answer it.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Are you interested in working with a group of creative, clear, compassionate and courageous people to learn centered problem solving and apply it to your work? Bring our Centered Problem Solving workshop to your location or inquire about attending a public wo…

Get to Know Your People

How well do you know the people on your team?

Do you know what motivates each person? What their interests are? How happy they are at home? What they want to do when they grow up?

Work is more than work. Work is also relationships. Successful supervisors build strong relationships with their team. Some even socialize with them.

You may not need to socialize outside of the workplace with your team members, but it does help their performance (and your results) when you know a lot about them. When you show that you care.

Supervisors succeed by getting to know their people.

What can you do today to get to know your people a little more?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Is It Willingness or Ability?

Do you manage performance problems?

Coaching people to achieve their goals when they are experiencing performance difficulties takes skill, practice, and patience. What do we say? How do we encourage them? How can we be most helpful?

It's important to identify the source of the problem. Find out if they truly lack the skill -- which is an indicator that training could help, or do they lack the willingness -- which is a completely different situation.

Most leaders are happy to provide the training that their team members need in order to be able to perform at their best and achieve their goals. What training is available though to help someone who is unwilling to put the work in that it requires to succeed? My experience has been that there is no magic training for that kind of situation. Willingness is an inside job. Team members must be willing to learn, to grow, and to develop the ability to achieve their goals.

A lack of skill requires patience and teaching. A lack of willingnes…

Advance Your Career

Do you want to get ahead? Do you want to advance your career?

Achieve your goals. Make your boss look good. Align your work with the mission of your organization. Build powerful teams that get things done and delight their customers.

In short, develop into a successful leader.

Successful supervisors tend to get promoted.

And by the time that they do, they are ready for it.

What's next for you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Do you want to help the supervisors in your organization to advance their careers? Bring our workshop "Supervising for Success" to your organization.

Successful Supervisors Deal with Problems

Have you ever been tempted to ignore a problem?

I have. More than once to be honest. And it never helped the problem to ignore it. That unmotivated team member doesn't magically turn it around. That broken process just stays broken. And that unhappy customer gets noisier.

Sometimes we hesitate about dealing with a problem because we aren't even sure it is a problem. Maybe it's just the way things are and we need to learn to live with it. Maybe it's a fact of life.

If we have no control or influence over the situation, it may be a fact of life.

Calling something a problem doesn't make it a problem, but ignoring it might.

What do successful supervisors do? What do centered, high performance leaders do?

- Determine how much of the situation you control or influence
- Analyze the root causes of your situation (what's really going on?)
- Ask for help from the people involved in the situation. What's their view?
- Deal with situations when they first emerge

How do…

Productivity Is Focus

Do you constantly work to improve your productivity?

As long as I've been working the search for greater productivity has been part of every job. Make it better, faster, smarter, cheaper. If possible, take yourself right out of the process.

Not the best strategy for a comfortable status quo, but let's face it, there is no status quo.

That's why focus is so important. Not just making things better but working on the right things. Seeing the path to the vision. Minding the mission.

Productivity is focus. 

Without focus, what's the point?

Are you focused on your vision today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Supervise with Strength

Does your team see you as a strong leader?

Think about this for a moment -- would you want to report to a weak leader? How would it feel if your boss did not stand up for you and your team members? How would you like it if you knew your main competitor had no respect or fear (yes, I said fear) for your leader?

No one wants to work for a weak supervisor.

People want to know that you've got their back when they slip into trouble. People want to know that when things get tight you won't grab the fastest, easiest, people-cutting measure to wiggle out of it. People want to know that you have belief behind your strategy.

Being strong does NOT mean yelling, bullying, bossing, or arrogantly ordering people around. Those are all sure signs of character weakness. Showing strength means that even when you feel fear, you face into it with the confidence of practiced skills, learning, and reliable relationships to support you.

It takes time to develop that strength. It takes training, risk-…

Smile at What People Remember

Don't people remember the craziest things? After you've completed the biggest project you've ever worked on, after you've dramatically improved your team's results, after you've been a poster-model for the best centered leader on the planet what some people will remember is that little mistake you made.

They'll remind you of your mistakes just when those mistakes have almost disappeared from your own memory. Just when your sleep patterns are returning to normal, someone will remind you of why it was disrupted in the first place.

Supervisors don't have to remember all their mistakes -- other people will help you with that.

Our job as leaders is to learn from those mistakes. And next time -- maybe make some new ones.

It's not a bad thing -- it's part of being a high performance leader.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Keep Perspective On Your Problems

Do your problems ever seem bigger than they really are?

It could be a wonderful day filled with opportunities and fascinating connections with other people and someone we get fixed on a problem that gives us permission to feel unhappy. That seems like a poor choice to me.

I've done it though. Have you?

One thing I've learned about my problems -- even as I work to solve them -- is to keep them in perspective. Compared to other problems, how do they look? Compared to other people's situations, how dire is this really? Especially knowing that with the right process and resources I'll be no doubt solving my problem, what exactly is troubling me?

I served for a while as a volunteer fire fighter. There's nothing quite like moving into a burning building or carrying a power saw on a roof to cut a hole in the top so the fire can get out to give you a sense of perspective. Suddenly, the little problems of the day fade away.

My oldest son is a paramedic. Every time I hear a…

Lead On Level Ground

How does it feel to be stuck in the middle?

Maybe you know what I'm talking about -- stuck in the middle of your organization with tough customers above you, tough team members below you, and fascinatingly frustrating peers beside you. The life of a supervisor is one surrounded on every level by challenges. It may be the toughest spot in the organization.

Supervisor may be the toughest job because you can always be over ruled from above, undermined from below, and ignored from your peers. What's the solution?

Lead on level ground.

Find ways to leave everyone's title at the door. Think of people as peers -- no matter where they sit in the organization. Your boss is a person with needs and dreams. Your direct-reports imagine themselves as critically important (and they are). Your peers want and need your help in more ways than they can express. It's all much more easy once you believe -- and behave -- as if titles are must less important than goals.

People at every level…

Supervisors Succeed by Sharing

As a leader, how much do you share with your team?

When it comes to leveraging your success and keeping your team positive and performing, sharing is a powerful tool.

Successful supervisors share what they know about the organization, including upcoming changes and strategic moves. They share their own personal goals. They share the resources needed for their team to achieve its goals. The list could be very long. The challenge to many leaders is that they don't share enough. Centered leaders know that by sharing the whole is made greater than the parts. By sharing, you do not diminish your excellence but rather increase it.

I'm not talking about private, personal details about your life. Share those if you want to, but that's not what I mean here. Successful supervisors share generously the details of their work, their vision, their values, and their goals.

Supervisors succeed by sharing knowledge, power, and responsibility.  

How are you doing at sharing?

What extra detai…

Centered Leaders Control Their Inner Judge

When was the last time you judged someone or something?

For many of us the answer is minutes ago, maybe even seconds ago. We're good, and well practiced at judging.

The problem is we judge too much. We judge when people aren't expecting it. We judge when people don't need it. We judge when it doesn't do us any good.

We could all judge a lot less.

We can keep a sensible manner about us without all of that evaluation. We can learn to accept some things and some people for what and who they are. Especially when they have not asked us to help them change.

We should be careful about becoming a self-appointed judge.

If no one elected us to that position, chances are they won't care about our judgments anyway. And without the pretense, we could be much more free to enjoy people the way they are.

Successful supervisors, centered leaders, and high performance leaders use judging sparingly.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

High Performance Leaders Take Action!

Do you know anyone who has lots of great ideas but seldom (if ever) takes any action on them?

How does that work for them?

I've seen people who were completely frustrated because they didn't get what they wanted and hoped for -- but didn't do anything to bring their desires into reality, either. I've done that myself.

Ideas are great. Actions make things happen.

Act on your great ideas and your great ideas can come true. Sit on your ideas and, well, nothing happens. The universe isn't really listening to your wishes with any plans to bring them about. It's up to you.

It's up to us to make our dreams come true, to turn them into goals and then plans and then actions. Actions!

Our best ideas are only as strong as the actions we take to bring them about.

Successful supervisors are people of action. Centered leaders bring great ideas AND decisive actions into play. High performance leaders act on their ideas.

What actions can you take today?

-- Douglas Brent Smi…

Think Before Running from a Problem

Run away! Do you ever find yourself simply avoiding a big problem? Even though you know for sure that problem is not going away on its own, it's just too hairy and slippery to figure out right now and it doesn't seem as if the effort is worth the anxiety.

But what eventually happens to our anxiety if we do nothing about our problems? It just grows bigger.

Before I run from a problem I need to ask if that's the best solution for all concerned.

How about you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Are you interested in helping the people in your organization to learn how to solve more problems faster and more collaboratively? Check out our one day workshop on Centered Problem Solving.

Drop The Emotional Baggage

Does emotional baggage ever intrude on your problem solving process?

Sometimes people bring up feelings that were deeply hidden yet growing. Sometimes unresolved conflict re-emerges creating sparks and noise in your attempts at collaboration.

It's easy to get excited about a problem. It's especially tempting when people seem to be making the problem worse. But does getting angry help? Does attaching yourself so tightly to the outcome that you burst help your situation?

Probably not.

Any problem is big enough without adding emotional baggage.

Why not drop the emotional baggage and focus on your goal?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Live Your Legacy Now

What kind of legacy are you planning?

How would you like for people to remember you? Will they remember you as someone who solved problems? Will they recall the goals that you achieved? And most importantly, will people remember you as a centered person of strong character?

Let's not wait until the end. Let's not put this off. Let's work on what people remember beginning now.

What if your legacy depended completely on what you did today? What would you do?

What part of that are you willing to do today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Reduce the Glorification of Violence

What does being a supervisor have to do with reducing the glorification of violence?

Good question. I think it is everyone's responsibility to find ways to create more peace in the world. Successful supervisors, centered leaders -- bring about more peace in the world. These days that is really a challenge, so every little thing that we can do as individuals matters.

One of the other things that I do, in addition to training supervisors for success, is work on films. Usually that is as an actor in a short film production. Sometimes, I'm an extra in a larger film. I haven't scored that really big role in a really big film yet but hey, life is for living the adventure and I'm having a blast with the art that I create.

Since when I do get a role my "type" is usually the antagonist (the creepy morale bending bad guy is my specialty -- go figure!). Sometimes that means handling violent action. A gun. A knife. Usually, for my character it involves actions other tha…

Practice Centered Leadership

There are different definitions of centered leadership out there, and each has merit. I highly recommend reading the book "Centered Leadership" by Joanna Barsh. She takes a different view on centered leadership and yet it's harmonious with what I call centered leadership. It's a good read, filled with instantly usable advice on becoming a better leader. 

Here is a brief summary of my idea of centered leadership:

Centered leadership requires constant development in both the skills of leading and the character of leadership.

Centered leaders maintain the core of their character while selecting and using the leadership skills necessary for each specific situation.

Centered, high performance leadership achieves positive, goal oriented results while leading with clarity, courage, creativity and compassion. Centered leaders are dynamic. They find the point of focus, the center, of each moment to be able to operate with a sense of balance and well being.

They identify their cor…

Build Your Character With Your Goals

What makes us who we are?

If that sounds like a question for a twelve week course to you, you're probably right. What makes us who we are is complicated.

Sometimes forgotten in the mix of genes, education, parenting, and peer adaptation is our approach to goals. Do we set goals, how do we set them, what kinds of goals do we set, how assertive are we about working on them? All kinds of questions centering on our approach to goals.

It's easy to forget, but ever so important.

How we achieve our goals determines who we become.

Where ever we started, however we got to the present, regardless of our previous circumstance -- we control our approach to goals today.

What's your approach?

How are you doing at your goals?

Where are your opportunities to create an even greater you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Be Careful of Forced Solutions

It seems faster. It seems more efficient. Why not simply give your constituents no choice by changing what needs to be changed and removing the old way of doing things?

Because, well -- people don't like that sort of thing. And when they don't like something you can count on lots of resistance.

There's not much point in solving a problem by creating new ones.

Centered problem solvers do better than that because they know that a solution that needs to be forced is probably not going to solve your problem.

We might as well find a solution that our constituents embrace -- even when that is more work.

What do you think?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Looking for a way to solve more problems in your organization? Why not bring our workshop Centered Problem Solving to your location.

A Promise or A Plan?

Which would you rather have -- a promise, or a plan?

I love promises. When some people make a promise to me I know that it is as good as done. They are reliable, trustworthy, hard-working creative people who keep their promises.

I'll take a promise from them any day.

Promises can be problematic sometimes, though. Some people are not so skilled or willing to keep their promises. They may make a promise to move forward in the conversation (possibly because the conversation is deep enough to cause some discomfort) and yet have no intention of keeping that promise. That's not helpful. That's not what centered leaders are looking for. That's not how centered problem solvers operate.

Promises are great and I'm also interested in the plan. What exactly are they promising to do and when will they do it? What's the plan?

Picking a promise over a plan is a risky way to solve a problem. 

Problems respond better to the actions completed in a careful and thorough plan.

So, t…

Fix the Problem, Not the Person

How are you at fixing people?

Me, either. People are tough to fix, mainly because they usually are not broken. Something simply stands in the way of where they are and their most effective actions. Sometimes, we're even the thing standing in the way and don't know it.

Sometimes it looks like another person is the problem, or at least the cause of the problem. The temptation gets stronger then to solve the problem by fixing the person, or insisting that they fix themselves. That seldom works.

We do not solve our problems by attacking other people.

That makes the problem bigger and harms the relationship. Centered problem solvers take time to carefully analyze the source of the problem and they involve related people in that process. Because while it's hard to fix people -- those very same people you might be tempted to fix are often the best source of help in solving the problem. The key is aligning them, not maligning them.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Interested in solving more …

Centered Leaders Respond with Strength

High performance, centered leaders respond with strength. When problems arise, when challenges aggravate, when people clash, centered leaders find the right balance of courage and compassion to handle the situation.

That doesn't mean that they solve it all by themselves. Finding the balance might mean finding the right people to help. Finding the solution most certainly will mean involving the people who are effected by the problem.

Where does this ability come from? Largely, the ability to remain centered comes from a developed character. It comes from practice. It comes from focus. It comes from the heart, from the mind, and from the soul. It flexes the inner muscles of your being.

If that sounds deep, it is. Character development is more than training: it's experience, it's values, it's a sense of mission, and it's service to some higher cause.

Depth of character responds with strength to any problem.

How are you building the depth of character you need?

-- Dougl…

Show Compassion. Show kindness.

What is the most powerful strength a leader can show?

How about compassion under pressure? The ability to show kindness even when the other person may be acting in ways that do not normally trigger compassion. It takes a mindful leader to remain in the moment enough to remember the strength of compassion.

When we are given to anger, when we are tempted to yell, when we are managing our reactions...

The most profound gesture is one of kindness.

Listening deeply. Touching carefully. Trusting in spite of  the low level of trustworthiness. Staying kind. Staying compassionate.

Can you do that as a leader? Imagine the strength, the impact, the resiliency of your relationships when you do.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Change Quickly

How are you at keeping up?

Change is so rapid that adjusting, and evolving, has become a full time job. We roll with the changes, we drive new changes, we let go of the old. It's not getting easier, and it's getting faster.

I work at it. I keep learning. I keep adjusting, and still...

By the time I have it figured out it's time to try something else.

Instead of getting frustrated, here's how I like to look at it: change is growth. Faster change is faster growth. Getting better is growth, so the more change the better.

Are you with me on that?

Because the alternative is slow-motion decay, and we don't want that, do we?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Start Creatively

Do you give your creativity free reign? Do you let your inner artist loose?

I think that creativity is one of the five core leadership strengths. Ignoring it does not make it less important. Building it does make it more useful.

Start your mind working creatively and it won't want to stop.

Get a taste. Do something truly creatively. If you do already, you know how great it is. And if you don't, get started today. It makes a big difference in results, in energy, in fun. Get more creative. You'll like it.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Make the Hard Choices

Are you faced with a hard choice? A hard choice is one we don't want to make, and yet realize that sooner or later we need to. It could be making that big career change. It could be ending a destructive relationship. It could be selling that car that costs too much to keep repairing.

Make the choice.

Moving on is the direction of growth. Gathering the facts, discovering the reality of the situation, and making the choice is the way to go.

We might need to get creative to do it. It may take all of our creative juice just to figure out a better way, but there is always a better way.

A creative act may close a door or two but it will soon open thousands of possibilities.

And possibilities are what we want. Positive, energized, growing possibilities. This all becomes easier when our goals are clear. When we know where we're headed -- and we're willing to do the hard work it takes to get there -- any distraction is more easily exposed. Choices become more clear.

Make the hard ch…

Forget About Blaming

When you run into obstacles are you ever tempted to blame someone? The goal is within your site, but something keeps blocking it so it must be someone's fault, right? Maybe not.

And even if there is someone to blame, blaming them doesn't get you closer to your goal. Relentless action gets you there. Constant follow-up gets you there. Persistence and patience gets you there.

Setbacks are not always rational and there isn't usually one thing to blame.

So drop the blame. Move on with the action. Stay curious. Focus on your goal and (most importantly) the people who can and will help you achieve that goal. 

Because once you've achieved your goal, blame doesn't matter, does it?

-- Doug Smith

Find Help In Your Wilderness

Does it ever feel like you're stuck, wandering in the wilderness?

We all find ourselves in trouble sometimes, lost and a bit afraid of what might be coming. Those hard feelings are not meant to polarize us, though. Those danger signs are meant to signal that we should find help. Find the people able and willing to navigate, prod, motivate, or steer. Someone to offer a hand, a shoulder to cry on, or a brain to storm with. Help.

Your wilderness is someone else's comfort zone.

They have the experience, the capacity, and the willingness to help. All we have to do is ask.


-- Douglas Brent Smith

Solve That Problem Without Creating Losers

Who wins when you solve a problem?

Your answer to that question likely defines whether or not you've actually solved the problem.
Any solution that creates a loser is likely not sustainable. It's a never-ending game.

Problem solving is a game that can be played with everyone winning.

That's probably the only way to really put an end to the problem. Centered leaders solve problems without creating losers.

Could that take longer? Yes. Is it more likely to succeed? Yes, and yes, and yes!

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Centered Leaders Keep Their Agreements

It's tempting. The circumstances have changed. What seemed like a great idea is now a burden. How could anyone expect you to keep an agreement when it now is turning out poorly for you? Can't you just drop the whole thing?

Centered leaders operate with integrity. They stay true to their word. The time may come when we need to renegotiate, but we do so with openness and with the sincerity of keeping our agreements if those we agreed with expect us to hold to them. There is no room for dropping in the name of convenience or breaking an agreement because it no longer suits our needs.

Centered leaders keep agreements even when they are no longer convenient.

That builds a reputation of reliability. That sustains a relationship of trust. That demonstrates true character.

What kind of character do you want to be known for?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Enhance Your Team's Skills

What are you doing for your team to develop it?

Our development and our team's development is never done. There's always something new to learn. There are always skills that are changing and need updating. The work is a work in progress.

Give your team the training they need. Help them to enhance their skills. Make resources available to them so that they can grow. It's better for your team members and it's better for you.

Enhancing your team's skills will improve your team's performance.

As a leader, that's your job!

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Train Your Team

Does your team get all the training that it needs?

No matter how skilled, no matter how masterful, teams need to constantly learn. Centered leaders find ways to provide the training that their teams need so that they can continue to grow and excel. Are you doing that?

People enjoy their jobs more when they have the skills to do their jobs expertly.

Why not help them on that journey?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Do Something Important!

What do you have planned for today?

Will you be solving a problem? Will you be working to achieve one of your major goals?

Let this be the encouragement you need to get moving. Go for it!

You've never been more alive than you are right now! Take charge and do something important!

Won't that feel great?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Share Your Confidence

Are you confident about achieving your goals? Do you feel positive about your mission?

Do your team members know that?

Let's not take that for granted. Let's keep our team members updated. Share that confidence.

Confidence shared grows.

-- for your team members, and for yourself as well!

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Centered Leaders Tell The Truth

Can you reduce the lies you tell?

No offense intended. I'm not calling you a liar. What I've heard is that we've all lied. I know I've lied. I'm not proud of it one bit, and do not intend to lie anymore.

Even when the truth is hard. Even when people say it might hurt their feelings. Telling the truth, with respect, with understanding, with openness, with compassion -- that's what centered leaders do.

A lie spoken in kindness is still a lie. 

We can do better than that. We can learn to deal with the truth.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Share Your Truth

Do your people know where you stand on matters that effect them most?

Centered leaders share their truth. High performance leaders develop clarity around their core beliefs and make their values -- and standards of excellence -- well known.

Your truth should not be a mystery. That does not mean that you insist on everyone agreeing precisely with your truth. You may even need to work to achieve some shared meaning on what your truth is. Centered leaders are willing to talk about it. Ask people first about their own truths, and then share your own. There are benefits to this you may not have realized before.

Sharing your truth brings you confidence, openness, trust. Sharing your truth makes it easier to understand each other. Sharing a willingness to be influenced AND to seek to influence others takes the mystery out of your agenda. It helps you achieve your goals.

Confidence grows from the will to confide. Share your truth with someone today.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Would your team benef…

Keep Learning

What are you learning this week? Are you working on some core skills? Are you brushing up on another language. Maybe you're learning a new code.

Centered leaders keep learning.

Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes work gets in the way. Keep learning.

If you're hungry enough to learn, you will find a way.

If your employer supports learning, grab at it every chance you get.

If your employer does NOT support learning, go ahead and sponsor it yourself. The most expensive education is the one you need and fail to get.

Learn. Keep learning. You don't want to evolve, right?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

If you're interested in bringing more learning to your organization, book our leadership workshops. Not only do they help you develop core leadership skills, they are surprisingly affordable.

Centered Leaders Are Encouraging

Do you ever find it tough to be the positive voice of encouragement?

When things get especially tough it can be tempting to fall down in the driving encouragement area. As leaders, we can even drift into a sameness invoked pessimism when challenges derail our plans or delay our goals. But we can do better.

The more difficult the situation, the more encouraging a leader must be.

It's important. It's vital. It's instrumental to our success.

Centered leaders are constantly encouraging -- even when, especially when, that is hard.

The more difficult the situation, the more encouraging a leader must be.

Who are your team could use some encouragement today? How will you provide it?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Welcome More Questions

Does it ever seem like your people have an inexhaustible supply of questions? That's probably because they do. How do I do this? Why are we doing this? Can I have my birthday off? Why did Donna get a promotion? Is our business going to lay people off?


While it is not completely your job to answer every question -- your people are looking to you for guidance. When you can provide that by allowing them to discover their own answers to questions, they will grow. Sometimes, though, they simply can't get the answers or would be in danger of making answers up unless you help them. So help them.

Every answer raises two more questions. 

Or as I like to think of it, two more opportunities to lead.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Would you like the supervisors in your organization to get better at answering the tough questions? Consider bringing our workshop Supervising for Success to your location. It's surprisingly affordable -- especially in the Rocky Mountain front range area n…

Propel Yourself

What gets you going? What sets you into motion, headed toward success?

What about goals?

Do you set clear, powerful, action focused goals?

A clearly stated goal propels you into action.

Why not get started now?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Limit Your Number of Goals

How many goals do you have?

Do you remember all of them? Do you work on each of them each day?

Yesterday, as I was looking at a list of goals that I had created, I noticed that my work had evolved beyond that list. To work that list at this point would be a waste of time. A new list is needed. The old list got tossed.

If you can't remember all of your goals, you have too many goals.

Let your goals serve you best: limit how many you carry around.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Focus On Your Goal

Where do you start your problem solving process?

Many people jump right in defining what they think is the problem, but what they are really describing is the symptoms. If you've ever solved a bunch of symptoms only to find the problem still hanging around, you're ready for another approach.

How about starting with your goal? What is it that you really want?

It's much more effective to focus on your goal because then there are things that you can DO to get you there faster.

Before solving a problem, focus on what you really want from a solution.

You'll be much happier with the solutions you find when they help you achieve your goals.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Understanding Your Own Problems

Have you noticed that it feels easier to understand someone else's problem than your own?

Maybe the solutions pop up faster, too. You have that sense of impartial perspective, that clarity of thought that could be so useful on your own problems.

That's why we involve other people. It's one of many reasons to involve other people.

Other people give us another perspective, more energy, accountability, focus, and new ideas.

Almost anybody's problem is easier to understand than your own. Why not get the help you need?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Take The Time To Know Your People

How well do you know your team?

Do you know each person's individual goals and desires? Do you know how they enjoy spending their time? Do you know if they are happy on the team and with the team mission and goals?

It's easy to take team members for granted. Sometimes we miss a window of opportunity when someone first joins a team to learn all about them and before we know it, days and weeks go by and we're working closely with someone we hardly know. We can do better than that.

Who ever is on your team, I encourage you to get to know them better. If you have a large team, it may take a while to get caught up, but it will be well worth the effort. Getting to know our team members better gives us:

- a more cohesive team
- short-cuts to conflict resolution
- insights into what motivates each other
- more fun!
- constant, real-time team-building
- better relationships for greater collaboration and cooperation

Centered leaders take the time to know their people.

Who do you need…

Motivate Collectively and Individually

What motivates your team to achieve their goals?

Is it a long list, or a short one? Does everyone on your team share the same motivations?

As centered, high performance leaders it's our job to motivate our whole team. That requires some knowledge about what each team member finds to be motivating. It will vary from team member to team member.

Some things will motivate everyone on the team (if you have the right people on the team) and some things are specific to each person. It's our job to figure that out. The best way is to ask, in one to one dialogues.

Some people find competition motivating, and others find it stifling. Some people find collaboration essential while other prefer and independent type of cooperation. Many people will say that financial incentives will motivate them, and that may be true for a while, but personal and more transformative incentives (like career development and doing the kind of work that you enjoy and working with people you find energizing) a…

Move from "Me" to "We"

by David Spiegel
"The secret to success is to know something nobody else does." -- Aristotle
Here is another guest entry from my friend, David Spiegel. I especially like how he ties this together with one of John Maxwell's Words of The Day. As you read this, think about how you can move in the direction of turning what you do best from a "me" effort to a "we" movement.

As I was stretching this morning waiting for my trainer to finish up with his 7:30 clients, I had the opportunity to look around the gym. When I started working with Cris, the head trainer,he had appointments set pretty much back to back for himself. 

There was another trainer who I saw occasionally. Today, there was Cris working with "the Killer Couple" (these two really work hard!). There were also 3 or 4 other trainers working with clients. Some individuals and some working with two clients at the same time.There was a buzz of activity as these trainers engaged there clients and…

Clarify to Avoid Confusion

Have you ever thought you knew what someone had agreed to, only to discover that they had something completely different in mind?

Sometimes we see things differently. Let's face it -- we always see things differently. We bring our own filters, perceptions, conceptions, ideas, and bias to any moment and any agreement. As centered, high performance leaders we need to take the time to clarify our agreements to avoid confusion.

When we ask a question and get an answer, it's worth taking a moment to validate or confirm what we believe that answer means. We can paraphrase, we can reframe, we can ask a follow-up question. It's best to make sure that we know what we think we know.

Every answer is open to interpretation.

What do you do to make sure that your interpretations are shared?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Are you interested in developing better communication in your organization? Why not contact me today about bringing the workshop "Communicating for Results" to your l…

Rock Your Own Style

Remember a time when you saw someone so completely centered, so completed on their game that you wondered what it would be like to try their style on for style?

Long ago I wanted to be Wilt Chamberlain.  If you were a basketball fan (and player) at the time you might want that, too. He was dominant. He was relentless. He could score at will. But I was not even close to his size or stature or skill. It was not the style for me.

Later I wanted to be Bruce Springsteen. To sing like him, rock like him, give more than anyone else in the business (except maybe James Brown at the time) was able to give. And, in many ways The Boss is style a big influence on my guitar and vocal styles as I play in a band even now. But I'm no Bruce, and there's no point in pretending that I could be.

It's up to each of us to rock our own style. To be our own leader. And within that, to develop the skills and character we need to be the best leader that we can be: a leader operating with clarity, co…

Squash Deception

How to you react to being lied to?

I'm going to guess that it makes you angry. It likely creates an emotional storm, whether you discover it later or earlier. Deception is a bite out of integrity.

Maybe people deceive us because they think they can get away with it. Maybe they try to deceive us hoping to get caught. There is something desperate about deception. It is irritating and much weaker than it appears.

Deception begs for justice. Give it what it craves.

Squash deception wherever you find it. Truth rules.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Create Project Boundaries

Do you find your projects getting bigger and bigger?

Is scope creep more than a concept to you and more like a way of life?

I call it the "wouldn't it be cool syndrome." Our bosses do it to us, our clients do it to us, our customers do it to us, our team members do it to us, but most of all we do it to ourselves -- we let our boundaries disappear and work expand endlessly.

Do you know what that leads to? Unfinished work. That's not what you probably want.

While your job might be without boundaries, your projects need them.

And guess what -- if you don't set them and enforce them, why would anyone else?

Centered leaders, high performance leaders create project boundaries. Shouldn't you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Give Lots of Chances

Do people who follow you make mistakes?

Of course. All people make mistakes. How you as a leader respond to those mistakes will determine how many risks they take and how creative they get. And, you want them to be plenty creative.

Give your people lots of chances. Chances to succeed. Chances to learn. Chances to grow. The cost is incremental, but the payoff is geometrical. It's worth it.

Giving someone another chance doesn't take any chances from you.  Your chances are unlimited.

There. I said it. Your chances are limited. What's the point in being stingy about them?

Centered leaders give lots of chances. Who do you know who would love another chance today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Multiply Your Lessons Learned

Isn't it tempting to keep our mistakes to ourselves? We're just glad to get through them and really don't treasure parading our weaknesses around. But, what if by sharing our mistakes we can do some good?

The lessons we learn from our mistakes can be multiplied by teaching others.

It provides useful information (whether or not others take it). It shows our own humility. It demonstrates our compassion for others with the hope that they can avoid some pain or hardship that we've already experienced.

We might have a hand in helping others avoid mistakes.

And if others make fewer mistakes, won't that be good for us, too?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Learn from Those Missed Goals

Do you remember missing a goal but also learning from it?

If we are truly setting stretch goals, we will sometimes miss. It doesn't make us unsuccessful -- it changes us, it refreshes us, it develops us -- if we take the time to learn the lesson inside.

Why did we miss?
What should we do differently next time?
What part of our goal plan did work?

Sometimes we learn more from a stretch goal that we don't achieve than from an easy one that we do.

Pick the stretch goal. Grow.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Play A Better Game

Do you like it when someone blames you for something you didn't do?

For that matter, you probably don't like it when people blame you for things you DID do either.

Blame creates more ill feelings. While it may be intended to build in accountability, does it seem to you that it works that way? Instead, problems get escalated. People point fingers. Guilt is transferred.

When justice is required, seek justice. But assigning blame -- randomly or otherwise -- seldom improves the situation.

Blame brings shame so play a better game.

It might take courage. It might take compassion. It might take the clarity of seeing the bigger, better picture and working to create the better relationship.

Find ways to get past the situation to a mutually shared goal. Play a better game.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Begin Again

Have you ever had one of those days when you wished you were in a video game and could simply push reset?

It's not so easy in real life. But we do have a reset button. We are not always trapped in unchangeable circumstances. We have choice. We have power. We have courage.

Take that courage. Show that power.

Each moment presents a new chance to begin again.

Begin again.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

You can begin your quest again to achieve your goals. Get more info here.
Are problems standing in the way? Check out our Centered Problem Solving Workshop.

Create A That Sounds Awesome List

Guest Post from David Spiegel
I often find myself writing about things that are perplexing me. When I am feeling uncomfortable about something, I find that writing about it helps me shed some light on the matter. Sometimes the results are immediate and at other times it is a process. 
Today I am writing about something I find fascinating. I think inspiring is a better word.In fact I find myself awestruck by it. 24 years ago, while planning my son Max's Bris, a friend and mentor told me "David,all you can do is set the stage. You can not predict an outcome". The message was simple, have no expectations ,just do it the way you want it done.
Fascinating! Today that same person is fulfilling one of those bucket list items herself. After standing track side at Churchill Downs to watch California Chrome run for the roses, I next heard from her in Baltimore where she watched C.C. take the second leg of the Triple Crown. Today she is in Queens at the Belmont in position to watch hi…

High Performance Leaders Keep a Positive Mood

Do you ever get in a bad mood?

We all do. Certainly, I've shown some moods I'd rather have kept to myself. The trouble is, as leaders we can't afford bad moods. We can't afford to show other people moods that might impact their productivity, slow down their work, and keep them from achieving their goals.

If we are to achieve our goals it makes sense to drop the bad moods. When we feel a bad mood coming on, to get a grip on it, hold it tight, feel it for all it's worth, and then let it go.

Let it go.

Let the bad mood good and substitute a positive mood.

Positive, centered, high performance leadership moods such as:

- Fixing the process instead of blaming the person
- Focusing on the big picture vision instead of the instant blemish
- Staying curious instead of judgmental
- Showing nurturing instead of nagging
- Giving people the benefit of the doubt
- Going a little easier on ourselves
- Remembering that this too will pass
- Keeping a positive perspective: you have…

Don't Force Your Solutions

What happens when you impose your solution on someone else's problem?

If it works, they will be happy that it works and likely still resent you for imposing the solution. If it does not work (which is often the case) you of course will get the blame.

People need to come up with their own solutions. Your advice may be brilliant. Your insistence may be strong. But their resistance to change (and need for ownership) will quite likely get in the way.

We should not force someone to try our solution to their problem.

Even if their ideas aren't as good, they are much more likely to follow them.

Unless your trying to teach both of you a lesson. Good luck with that approach.

Centered problem solving involves much more. It is taking an approach of working on the relationship as well as the problem. It's attacking the process, and not the person. It's cooperating and collaborating. That's not as easy as imposing your own solution -- but much more likely to succeed.

-- Douglas …

Bring Centered Problem Solving to Your Location

WHAT IF you could work with a small group of people who would help you to solve your most pressing problems? They wouldn't try to impress you. They wouldn't charge you money. They wouldn't hold back their best advice to keep you coming back for more. All they wanted from you was to help you to solve your problems and achieve your goals, in exchange for cooperation in solving their own problems and achieving their goals.

What they would do is speak openly and honestly and with absolute clarity. They would support your goals and offer their expertise unselfishly and without reservation. They would pay careful attention to your problem solving needs and treat your shortcomings and challenges with compassion. They would cooperate. They would spark ideas together that they would probably not realize on their own, and they would have fun doing it.

They would help you drop excuses and time wasters to focus instead with your full energy on what you really want.

That is…