Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Get To Know Your Audience

How much time do you spend preparing your slides for a big presentation?

I know, I know. It can take up a lot of time. And I'm not complaining about anyone spending time doing a great job on the slides. There are far too many word-heavy lousy presentations out there. Who needs to sit thru any more of those?

The slides are just the beginning, though. No. Let me take that back - they aren't EVEN the beginning. They are just part of the presentation. You know the two biggest parts of the presentation? (Careful, let's get the order, the priority right here...)

1. Your audience
2. You

That's it. The two biggest parts of your presentation. Presumably, you have something great to share. Certainly, you are going to edify your team and your constituents. You are an inspiration.

But only if there is something between your audience and you. Only if there is a relationship there. That's the there, there. What trust leads to the truth of your relationship?

It takes time. It takes conversations. It takes listening carefully and paying attention. That's tough work. And, it's the best work going

People may enjoy your slides. They may laugh at your humor. They may take notes on your talking points. But its you, you, you they either care about or disregard.

What are you giving your audience to remember? Is that you?

-- Doug Smith

If you'd like to improve your communication skills and deliver more powerful presentations, contact me about bringing a workshop to your location.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Don't Fool Yourself

Do you know who we lie to the most? According to don Miguel Ruiz, we tell the most lies to ourselves.

This does not surprise people. Lately, I've been asking people in workshops that question and the number one answer, easily, is that we lie the most to ourselves.

As Bob Newhart says in the MadTV video that always makes me laugh, "Stop it."

Simple, but not easy. We dig in. We want what we want. We cling to who we are (and were) whether or not it propels us into who we could be. Who we could be can wait when we're too stubborn to change.

Stop it.

Our stubborn tendencies only fool ourselves. Those habits we won't break. Those excuses we repeat. Those self-limiting behaviors and beliefs.

Just stop it.

I will if you will.

-- Doug Smith

Here's that Bob Newhart and Mo Collins video.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Be Strong Without Being A Bully

There is a balance that leaders must find. Go too easy on your team and they will perceive that you don't care. You're not there to create a country club atmosphere. There are standards. There are goals. There are expectations. Your job is to communicate those goals and expectations and follow-up to make sure that your team is achieving them.

That does not mean shouting, demanding unreasonably, or bullying. You know who works for a bully? Only people who have no choice, and then they deliver the bare minimum. The popular image of a yelling, demanding boss only works in the movies. In real life, people find ways to leave the bully flat.

No one wants a weak supervisor. They want someone who has their back, who backs them up, who lets them know when they are delivering exemplary results and who also lets them know when they need to feedback. People want and need feedback. Just choose it carefully. Focus on the behavior, not the person.

No one wants a bully, either. Yell at me, shout at me, call me names, deride my character OR my intentions and I am out of here. No one wants or needs that.

Successful supervisors preserve respect and dignity even while requiring strong results. It's not either or. As is the case in so much of leadership, it is a question of balanced.

You do want to be known as someone who is balanced, don't you?

Find the balance.

-- Doug Smith

Monday, July 18, 2016

Keep Building Your Strengths

What happens to people who take their strengths for granted?

Wouldn't it be terrible if a strength faded out of lack of development?

Our strengths are important. High performance leaders build on their strengths and find ways to apply them in service to their mission and their team. It's easy to step away from a strength when the responsibilities of leadership get heavy, but don't do it. Stay true to your strength. Keep developing it. Utilize it.

Never give up on what you do best. When others do it better, when others criticize you, when you feel frustrated and down -- never give up on what you do best. You're just a reach away from a break-thru. Keep reaching.

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dream Creatively

In your dreams do you find yourself solving problems?

We glamorize dreams. We think of them coming true easily. But is that the reality? Or is the situation really about hard work, solving problems and achieving your goals?

Living your dreams is not about conclusions so much as it is about process. The process of living your dreams involves getting better each day, working harder than you've ever worked before, and persisting even when the odds are against you (especially when the odds are against you!)

Living your dream is probably going to increase your need to solve problems creatively. The problems will emerge, whether you like it or not. Are you ready to dream creatively, think creatively, and work creatively?

Good. Let's get started.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, July 8, 2016

Have A Good Day

How you feel when someone says to you "have a nice day"?

They mean well, or not, it just does not usually mean much to me. Have a good day. But today I discovered in my email feed an interview from Wharton with Caroline Webb who wrote a book, "How To Have A Good Day" and though I was skeptical at first, it turns out to be a great read.

It also includes a podcast of the interview, so if you prefer listening to reading, there you go. I like and enjoy both (but don't do both at the same time, the article is a summary of the interview and not a transcription).

As leaders, we need to not just expect to have good days, we need to create them. I enjoyed Ms. Webbs advice on this and invite you to check it out here:

How to have a good day

Same link, full URL:

I'll let you glean what you will from it. One thing I found in complete harmony with my approach to optimizing your results is to take a positive view on your goals -- state them as what you will do more of and NOT what you will eliminate or do less of. Turns out that when we stay positive we relax the defensive mode which tends to immobilize us, and instead we can achieve our goals.

And that's what high performance leadership is all about.

Have Create a great day!

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Be Demanding, Not Demeaning

Are you a demanding leader?

The good news is that people like to be challenged. They won't ever ask you for it, but they enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that is only obtained by tackling something tough.

So you can be a demanding leader. As long as you are respectful as well. No one, absolutely no one, wants to work for a demeaning leader. Someone who insults your integrity or your character is no fun to be around -- and even worse, is not effective. As a motivator, demeanors diminish rather than build.

No insults. No lost patience. No anger. Persistent, gentle prodding. Strong instructions and insistent follow-up, yes. Insults - no.

Leaders can be demanding without being demeaning. Go for it.

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Find Someone To Learn From

Do you have a mentor? A coach? Someone you can learn from on a regular basis?

Working with someone who helps you grow, who helps you learn is one of the best and fastest ways to advance your career. You'll be surprised at what you learn.

I've often (yes, often) been astounded at how something that seems impossibly hard for me to do looks easy to someone else. I've learned (the hard way) that just because something doesn't work for me doesn't mean that there is no way to make it work.

It might require expertise. It might require help. It might require the firm yet gentle touch of a seasoned professional.

There is a way. Working with someone who can coach you shortens the path of learning needed to get things done that otherwise seem unachievable. You can do it. Maybe not right now. Maybe right now is the learning opportunity. Maybe right now is the first of a dozen attempts needed before success rings its shiny bell.

Maybe it's not working now. Keep working.

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Grow Beyond Your Limitations

What's holding you back?

We all have things that try to hold us back. They stand in our way looking formidable, even when they are simply flimsy excuses.

They wall us in. Maybe it's that touch of anger that creeps into your voice when a team member lets you down. Maybe it's that fear of the unknown that keeps me from calling a potential client. We've all got stuff.

Limitations feel like boundaries, but they are not.  We can not only navigate our limitations, we can break thru them and grow past them. In essence, as leaders, that's part of our job. Grow beyond your limitations.

I'm going to work on that this week. How about you?

-- Doug Smith

Friday, July 1, 2016

Respect Your Time

Do other people try to waste your time?

I say try, because it is up to you whether or not you allow them to.

People will do their best to consume our time. In many cases it is useful, helpful, and necessary. In other cases, it simply uses up time that we could spend more productively on our goals.

People will treat your time the way that you do. If you give it away at the slightest request, or if you are observed frivolously using it up, people will assume that your time is that that valuable. Your time IS that valuable. Your time is the most valuable asset you have and completely unreplenishable. Use it wisely. Demonstrate to others how important it is, and they will much more likely understand.

There's no point in complaining about how little time you have. We all have the same amount.

How will you honor your time responsibly today?

-- Doug Smith