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Showing posts from 2017

It's Your Mess Now

Have you ever inherited a big mess? When I first became a supervisor, a long time ago, the people who were assigned to me did not make a cohesive, collaborative, or cooperative team. We were one hot mess of humanity, working to meet personal production goals.

I could have blamed upper management for selecting that team. I could have moaned about their previous supervisors. Maybe I was too young to be cynical. What I did instead was dig in, try different things, get to know my people, and give them every opportunity to succeed as a team.

I could have done better, but maybe the learning was the best outcome. We grew together as a team, and in turn mysteriously grew as professional individuals as well.

No matter how much of a mess you inherited it's still up to you what you do with it.

Choose wisely and you'll like what you get. And if you don't? You get to keep choosing (and working) until you do.

What kind of mess have you been blaming someone else for? Isn't it time to…

Avoid the Damage

I know how it feels to fail to communicate. For too long I would keep my feelings to myself. Too many times my thoughts were secret. All too often my silence would be assumed as agreement when that simply was not true.

No more. I've focused on improving, on developing my communication skills, and whenever possible, to help other people with theirs. Because it's so important. In many ways, it's the whole ball game. Fail to communicate and how will you ever get what you want? Fail to communicate and how will you manage to make a positive difference in the world?

I've still got a long ways to go. There are still times when that deeper conversation escapes me because the emotions are too strong. Still. We live, we learn, we grow. Better to keep improving than to accept the disconnect.

Failing to communicate causes us to miss our goals. It causes our teams to splinter and disintegrate. Failing to communicate drains us of the vitality that living is meant to provide. And it…

Powerful Silence

I often quote Susan Scott ("Fierce Conversations") who said, "Let silence do the heavy lifting." It's powerfully useful. Those awkward silences are times to think, times to process, times to remain curious.

Today I'd like to add this:

We rush to fill the silence. We awkwardly walk away. We miss the silent opportunity. It's not a time to hurry, it's a time to remain mindful. Be there. Process. Listen.

Silence is too powerful to waste. Use the gift that it brings.

-- doug smith

Are They Listening?

Do you send a lot of messages?

I see people who broadcast hundreds of tweets a month. Dozens a day. Sending, sending, sending, I truly wonder if they read anyone else's messages. Are they paying attention? Are they listening?

What about your people? Are they listening?

A million messages a minute won't matter if they aren't listening.

You can teach them how...just, listen.

-- doug smith

Talk About What You Want

I've never met anyone who could read my mind. And, I've never been able to read anyone else's mind, either.

Intentions are funny things. We can't always tell what they are. One way helps the most: talk about it.

If you want to get what you want, talk about it.

-- Doug Smith

No Secret Agenda

It's not easy. It takes a level of trust most of us are not prepared for. It requires a level of radical truth that exposes the scars and wrinkles of the world. It's this simple, and yet not easy: say what you mean, ask for what you want.

Why is that so hard?

We fear that others might resist our desires if they knew them. We fear we might hurt others' feelings. Or maybe, just maybe, what we truly want is not what we think we should want. Maybe it's not even in our best interest.

I reflect on that sometimes. Is what I want, what I want? What case am I building for now and for the future? How will my task list look to me ten years from now? Is my agenda a secret because it's too small?

I don't have the answer today. Today, I'm just a little tired of people who say they have all the answers, even in topics they clearly are not qualified to be experts in. But, can they -- should they -- express their views? Of course!

Say what you mean, ask for what you want, a…

False Choice?

Have you ever fooled yourself into a limited choice?

We fool ourselves endlessly and don't always know it. Narrowed choices that lock us in dispute. There are always other choices. The possibilities are endless. Let go of the tight grip you've got on that goal and another goal will likely appear. Clarify. Expand. Breathe.

We trick ourselves into sacrificing what we really want for something that feels like an obligation. I'm not saying to ditch your responsibilities. Do keep your commitments. Be responsible. Just don't be recklessly limiting in your scope, in your promise, in your possibilities. What if you didn't need to sacrifice what you really want?

What if sacrifice is a false choice?

-- Doug Smith

What Are You Building A Case For?

Have you ever heard someone argue incessantly in a direction that doesn't seem to make sense? Or maybe they're stacking the evidence so completely one-sidedly that the whole view looks distorted.

We seem to be doing more and more of that these days. Building and defending our own cases to the exclusion of any inquiry. We lack curiosity when it would serve us better than defensiveness.

It's the person complaining about their job: every detail is negative. It's the person attracted to another person: every detail is enticing. It's the political argument with no escape: every point is in opposition.

What case are you building?

That's a question I like to ask when it feels like I'm working cross-purposes to what I really want. Or, when someone else is doing the same thing.

What case are you building?

Is that really what you want? Will that make things better for you, for your team, for the world?

What case are you building?

What if there is a better alternative…

Evolve Your Vision

What's the difference between a mission and a vision?

You'll get different answers to that question. Here's what I think. Your mission is your practice call to action. It's what you are paid to do. It's how you keep your customers happy.

Your vision is bigger. Your vision is largely aspirational, meaning you are not there yet but you aspire to be there. It's something to work toward. It guides your strategy, your goals, your actions. As you get closer to actualizing your vision -- when you become KNOWN for doing that -- it's time to evolve. Evolve your vision so that you can elevate your game. Raise the bar, so you can go far.

Your vision evolves. When has it shifted the most for you and where is it now headed?

Keep growing -- it's our best choice.

-- Doug Smith

Clarify, Clarify, Clarify

What's your biggest communication mistake?

Mine is often assuming that my message has been understood, or that I understand what someone else is saying when we actually do not have a meeting of the minds. Whatever causes it, assumptions take over and the water gets muddy. Miscommunication creates more miscommunication. We end up getting excited about things that don't matter and forgetting what does.

I've learned to clarify. Clarify the intent. Clarify the meaning. Clarify the context. Clarify the request.

Clarify, clarify, clarify -- the muddy water makes you sick.

Know what you've said is heard, and what you've heard is what was said.


-- Doug Smith

Our Mirror Lies

What kind of feedback do you request?

Are you getting feedback on your own perceptions?

We see things differently, day to day. We might even distort what we're looking at. When we distort our mission or our goals it leads us astray. When we distort our performance ("I'm doing great! Sure I am! Everything is wonderful!") we risk falling off track. Things can get sketchy.

When you look in the mirror, remember that mirrors reverse everything. What you see is not what you see. Similarly, when you look at yourself, could you be revering things? Could you be getting it just a bit backwards?

Get feedback from others. Creatively check other perspectives.

Because our mirror lies, and we need help seeing ourselves.

-- Doug Smith

Figure Out Your Goals

Sometimes I get confused.

What should I be working on RIGHT NOW?

In many of the workshops that I lead, participants struggle with setting priorities. To achieve our goals, we must know our priorities, work those priorities, and somehow -- SOMEHOW -- make peace with those tasks that are NOT our priorities and left undone.

It doesn't make everyone happy. That's not our job. Our job is to figure out our goals, work THEM, and achieve the goals that matter.

Easier said than done, certainly, but no reason to surrender.

Here's what I tell myself: figure out your goals -- then work your butt off.

-- Doug Smith

Memorize Your Goal

If you haven't memorized your most important goal, how important is it?

Memorize your goal. Tell people about it. Work it.

-- Doug Smith

Work Your Goal

If you have a goal that you haven't worked on this week, when will you work on it?

Your team is curious, and they're watching.

-- Doug Smith

Problem Solving Success

We don't have to solve every problem to be successful, but it's hard to be successful without solving some problems.

-- Doug Smith

Imperfection is Human

Centered leaders do not judge people for being imperfect.

-- Doug Smith

Give Your Best Ideas More Than One Chance

You might have to repeat your best ideas a few times before anyone understands them.

-- Doug Smith

Authenticity (Quick Quote)

You can't fake authenticity.

-- Doug Smith

Endless Volume

People will give you as many problems as you're willing to hold onto.

-- Doug Smith

Asking Why

Do you ask why frequently?

I once had a boss who asked why over and over -- beyond a reasonable amount of times. It starts to feel like a persecution.

We need to know why, but we also need to use the question carefully. How we ask "why" matters, as does how many times we use it. When we're doing a root cause analysis on a problem, we might ask why five or six times on a perceived cause to search for its root. But that's on a thing, on a process, on a condition -- not on a person.

Go ahead and ask "why" but realize that most people don't enjoy the question.

-- Doug Smith

A Perspective on Failure

It's not failure -- it's a direction correction...

-- Doug Smith

Stay Creative

Creative leaders never run out of new ideas.

-- Doug Smith

An Endless Supply of Solutions

The creative problem solver in you always has more solutions than you need.

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Drive Commitment

The art of leadership is mobilizing commitment to a cause that would otherwise intimidate.

-- Doug Smith

On Certainty

I don't need absolute certainty to be absolutely certain.

-- Doug Smith

Two Parts of Creativity

How would you define creativity?

Some people see it as a flash of inspiration. It's the appearance of a wonderful and mysterious muse. Suddenly great and beautiful things happen.

For others, it's not like that at all. Why wait for the muse? Sometimes the muse is fickle and hard to find. We need creativity all of the time. We can't wait for brilliant flashes of insight. We need to conjure up that magic ourselves.

Creativity is not just inspiration -- it's also dedication and hard work.

Put in the work. Watch the magic happen.

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Are Accountable

My friend and fraternity brother David Spiegal operates a variety of businesses, models success in many ways, helps people become healthier and happier, and more -- all while being a loving family figure and man of faith.

Occasionally, I'll like one of his daily emails so much that I publish it here, word for word. I'm doing that today because, well, it's thought-provoking AND he refers to me in it. (My humble response follows his article as a comment.)

Here's Dave...

"Leadership is not a license to do less; it is a responsibility to do more."
-Simon Sinek-Leaders Eat Last  September Word of the Month:

Yesterday was a really great day. The weather was pleasant and I found myself in a really fantastic mood. At one point I was singing along with one of my favorite songs on the radio. I don't mean singing like following a long. I mean belting it out as if I were a finalist on America's Got Talent.
I made some long over due phone calls.
I cleaned…

Ask The Right Questions

Are you asking the right questions?

One of my mentors, Lester T. Shapiro, told me that the primary role of leaders is to ask relevant questions. I heard that over twenty years ago, and it is as true today as it was then. Leaders ask questions.

Questions to challenge.

"What was the best thing about the performance?
"What could we have done to make the performance better?"
"What will you do differently next time?"

Questions to probe.

"What stands in your way?"
"When will you achieve that goal?"
"When will you know when you will know?"
"What would make this goal even more noble, more ambitious?"

Questions to motivate.

"When have you overcome something like this before?"
"Who do you know who has done something similar?"
"What makes you feel good about this goal?"
"Who will you help the most by achieving this goal?


The secret to leadership success is asking the right questions.


Your Creative Side

Do you have a creative side?

You know - that side that smiles when you're making something new. That side that sings not just in the shower but whenever a song strikes your fancy. That side that comes up with great new ideas when you weren't even trying to.

That's you. Deep inside each of us, when we least expect it, is a creative spark just waiting to ignite. Fan those flames and watch the blaze light you up. You'll like the results.

Your creative side is always available. Let it roll.

-- Doug Smith

Quick Quote: Creative Problem Solving

It takes creative people to solve problems creatively.

-- Doug Smith

Talk About The Resistance

Opposition to a goal is a call for conversation.

-- Doug Smith

Nobody Is Interested In Excuses

Imagine this - you've been expecting someone on your team to complete an important task. The deadline is looming. You're ready for the deliverable at any time, and then...and then they start the list of excuses why they can't complete the task.

No fun, right?

Not acceptable, true?

True for you, and true for others who rely on you as well.

Leading for success leaves little room for excuses.

When I worked at Whole Foods one of my bosses once said, "we live in the land of no excuses." It was true there then, and it's true here now. Nobody is interested in any excuses.

-- Doug Smith

Align Your Goals

If our goals are competing, success will be fleeting.

-- Doug Smith

Maintain Flexibility Without Losing Focus

Have you ever seen someone who is so flexible that it's hard to know where they stand?

There have been times when I felt that way myself. It feels free, but then limits because it's so hard to make a decision. How do you choose? What's best?

I've since learned that it helps in making decisions to rely on a solid set of values, a strong sense of purpose, and a committed set of goals. Everything else, from projects to past times, falls in line with those three things. When you add your sense of faith to your values (or as one of your values) it becomes much easier to see when it's necessary to be flexible and when it's necessary to remain firm.

High performance leaders maintain flexibility without losing focus.  They know when to be flexible and when to be firm.

How about you?

-- Doug Smith

Is Stress A Choice?

How big of a deal is stress in your life?

We all endure a certain amount of stress. Depending on what's going on in your work and in your life, you may be going thru more stress than you want. Not all stress is bad (setting an ambitious goal, for example, adds a kind of good stress) but too much stress can slow you down.

How much of your stress are you choosing? Certainly, not all of your stress, but could you admit that some of it is the result of you doing too much worrying, or waiting too long to work on that big goal, or taking what the boss said too personally, or procrastinating when you knew the deadline was going to be tough?

You know as well as anyone else the answer to what to do about the stress you cause yourself: let it go. Stop it. Relax, breathe, focus, and then get to work.

When we do that, when we control the stress that we can control, when we choose "no" to a piece of self-selected stress, it makes handling the tough unchosen stress much, much easier.

High Performance Leaders Practice Taking Criticism

Do you like criticism?

I'll admit that I don't. I'm blessed with overly-sensitive sensibilities, and criticism triggers all kinds of defensiveness. But I'm working on it. I'm learning.

Criticism can be harsh, but not all criticism is harsh. As don Miguel Ruiz says, "don't take anything personally" (The Four Agreements.)

Instead of taking criticism personally, I'm working on finding the value. Finding the feedback that I can use. You might not be able to use all of it. Some days, you can't use any of it. When you can - do.

If you can take criticism without getting defensive you'll find the benefit it's meant to give.

It's part of good leadership. It's integral for communicating for results. And, it will help you to achieve your goals.

Use that to make your situation better, and it's all good.

-- Doug Smith

Get Results

What did you get?
What was the result?
What's the bottom line?

Don't expect anyone to appreciate the effort unless they like the result.

As my former boss, Bruce Green once said, "nobody cares how hard you tried."

That might sound cold, but it's right on point. Effort is important, but results rule. Useful, productive, noble results of course. Results that align with your values. But effort without results? Nobody really cares.

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Prioritize

Does this sound familiar? "I don't have enough time! I don't even have time to decide what to do next!"

It's a familiar cry with some of the groups I facilitate. Working on their productivity, they can barely find time to work on their productivity.

Start simply. Start at the top. Start where the most leverage brings the bonus opportunities: prioritize.

Decide how you will decide. What makes something important to you? It's up to you. It could be your mission. It could be your faith. It could be your circumstances (gotta pay the bills!) What is it for you?

Decide how you will decide and then decide.


Sound too simple? It's a place to start.

What's most important in your life?

-- Doug Smith

Negotiate Fairly

Do you negotiate fairly?

Dozens of books teach how to take advantage of other people. Is that what you really want to do? Or, do you want to create conversations and negotiations that develop your relationships?

If you know a piece of information that could effect your bargainer's position...what if you shared it?

If you know about a technological change that will dramatically impact the price of the thing you're negotiating on -- what if you shared that, too?

If your negotiating partner (not opponent!) is clearly making concessions based on a recently weakened position, do you grab all you can get?

Unless you negotiate fairly you aren't really negotiating.

And only fair negotiations count. Anything else is abuse.

-- Doug Smithy

Get The Performance You Want

Are your goals ever misunderstood by your team?

That can happen when the metric you use decouples from its intention. I remember managing a customer service department and wrestling with the mission of providing world class service and yet counting how many calls each representative answered. They were rewarded for answering many, many calls -- yet anyone who's ever been a customer knows what it feels like to be rushed thru a call. That's not great service.

As a high performance leader, you've got to prioritize. You've got to set unambiguous goals that make it clear what you are measuring AND why. There can be no doubt what matters.

People can game your goals if they aren't clearly aligned with the mission. Don't let that happen.

Set goals so clear that they can't be misunderstood.

It's your best chance at getting the performance you want.

-- Doug Smith

Build Your Team With Fun

Are your projects fun?

Do people tackle their tasks with a sense of energy and enthusiasm? Most importantly, do you hear laughter at work?

Find the fun in your project and your chances of success increase.

You'll be happier, your team will be happier, and your projects will show greater results.

-- Doug Smith

Focus on Your Mission

Team enthusiasm comes from embracing the team mission.

Do they know what it is? Are they excited about it? Does it drive your decisions as a team?

If not, find out why. Clearly define that mission. Focus on that mission. You'll like the results.

-- Doug Smith

No Gossip

No leader can ever afford to gossip.

Just don't do it. As many a grandmother would say, "if they'll gossip TO you, they'll gossip ABOUT you."  Just don't.

We had a great rule at GE while I worked there: honor the absent. Don't say anything about anyone that you wouldn't say if they were standing right in front of you.

That about covers any chance of gossip - simply honor the absent.

It's shows much better character, and high performance leaders need highly developed character.

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Build Teams By Building People

You don't build a team by tearing down any of the players.

No matter how much a team member is struggling, successful supervisors work to help them, not trash them. Provide training. Coach. Counsel. When a team member is willing, find a way for them to learn. When they are not willing, find out why.

Occasionally, a team member may need to leave, but they never need disrespect.

High performance leaders build teams by building people.

-- Doug Smith

Drive That Train Fast

High performance leaders drive results without crushing people.

You can be exacting, and even demanding, without being a jerk. Centered leaders realize that people work best when they are challenged, supported, and appreciated.

Drive that train fast -- but don't run over anyone.

-- Doug Smith

Building Your Team: Don't Clone Yourself

Do you wish that you could clone yourself?

Imagine the possibilities. Your one man band could be a one man BAND. Your team could be filled with people who meet your expectations exactly. Wouldn't that be great?

No. That would not be great. And yet so often we are tempted to try to do that, even though it is (currently!) impossible. How? By hiring people like us. By hiring people and staffing our teams with people who remind us of us. By doing our best to create the team of our dreams filled with the perfect people: copies of ourself.

Except, you wouldn't really like a whole team of you. Your problems would be magnified. Your weaknesses would be multiplied. And your sense of judgement, unregulated by any kind of diversity, would pull you right over a cliff.

Building your team does not mean cloning yourself.

Instead, building your team means finding diverse talent, people who are creative, people who are strong enough to disagree with you, and people who surprise you with both t…

Prepare to Do Better

Ready, set, go. But then things get in the way and stop us from getting where we need to go. That's not the end, it's just a pause to refresh, to re-energize, to reset and learn.

Sometimes the best we can do is to prepare to do better.

-- Doug Smith

Achieving Your Goals: Get Them Right

Working the wrong goals gets in the way, and yet we often find ourselves working on things that are assigned to us or poorly chosen. High performance leaders push against that. The final answer isn't the final answer if it doesn't serve the team. Work suffers when our goals stink.

Fix that. Negotiate great goals. Reach agreement on exciting, ambitious, nobel goals and see what happens next. When our goals are right, our work is better.

Give that a try. I think you'll like it.

-- Doug Smith

Use Your Time Wisely

How are you using your time today?

-- Doug Smith

Soul Shaking Goals

When the goal speaks to your soul nothing will stand in your way.

Not for long. Not forever. The goals that speak to your soul prevail.

What soul shaking goal are you working on today?

-- Doug Smith

When A Problem Confronts You

Just because a problem confronts you, doesn't mean that you must become confrontational.

Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay centered. It works so much better than panic or anger.

-- Doug Smith

No Insult Leadership

I had a boss once who insulted me every day. It seemed like nothing would please her. And, it wasn't just me -- she insulted everyone on the staff. It made coming to work far more stressful than it needed to be, and took the joy right out of the job.

Don't be that boss.

Sure, we need to provide feedback for improvement - but that's what it is, not insults. No one is looking for judgments that make them feel bad. No one wants their self-esteem cut to shreds because the boss is having a bad day.

Keep your bad days to yourself, please.

Feedback designed to harm or insult is better left unexpressed.

Your team will feel better, and you will, too.

-- Doug Smith

Bring our two-day workshop "Supervising for Success" to your location for just $149 per participant for organizations within 50 miles of Newtown, PA.

For more info: Supervising for Success

High Performance Leaders Confront Self-deception

Self-deception is so strong that we can't tell where it starts or ends.

To avoid falling into a trap of self-deception, get all the feedback you need. Positive feedback, feedback for improvement, and reality-checks against deception. Find people you trust, and ask: does this make sense? Is this a noble goal, or is this a self-serving goal?

High performance leaders confront self-deception. It's there: deal with it.

-- Doug Smith

Bring our two-day "Supervising for Success" workshop to your location. Contact me here:

What's in the workshop:

- Achieving your goals
- Developing leadership
- Ten keys to leadership success
- Communicating for results
- Building your team
- Developing motivation in yourself and others
- Improving productivity
- Coaching to improve performance
- Exploring generational strengths and challenges
- Setting and keeping priorities

It's two-days of leadership training that your front-line supervisors will use forev…

Building Your Team: Tear Down The Broken Walls

Building your team is a never ending project. No matter where you start, your team is constantly evolving. If you don't evolve, you devolve, and that's not what you want.

Unfortunately, sometimes a team needs to add by subtracting. Maybe it's a poor performer who is a poor match and needs another place someplace else. Maybe it's a broken process that is so obsolete you can't even remember why you still use it. Maybe it's having lost sight of the vision for the team or needing a new one completely.

Sometimes building your team means tearing down what doesn't work.

No need for tears. No need for pain. Simply remove the no longer needed or useful wall that stands between and your team's goals. You do no one any favors by letting it stand.

What stands in your team's way?

-- Doug Smith

Looking to develop high performance leadership in your life and your organization? Contact me today about bringing the two-day workshop "Supervising for Success"…

Creative Leaders Write

This is for you. You know who you are. You've got great ideas. You've got stories to tell. Adventures, misadventures, songs off tune and songs in key. The kind of material that fills you with so much lightness of being that you sometimes float away as well as the kind of material that weighs you down no strong wind could ever move you.

Write that book.

Chapter by chapter, idea by idea. Where it goes comes later. What you do with it comes later. Who cares about it comes later.

You are filled with treasures unclaimed. Don't keep them in your chest. Don't trap them in your head. Put them in motion. Set them free. Write them out of you with the fervor and glee of a jazz musician gone mad.

Go a little crazy, just get it all out.

Write that book even if no one ever reads it.

Especially if no one reads it. It's for you.

-- Doug Smith

Keep Looking for the Truth

How can you tell when you know the truth?

We look at things thru so many filters that we don't always know what we see. Is it the truth, or our version of the truth? Is it a shared truth, or are we in disagreement. We develop so many polar opposite views that it immobilizes us, and then we dig in more.

As high performance leaders we must find ways past that. We have to keep looking for the truth. We can't settle for our long term bias. We must uncover, discover, and grow.

Wouldn't it be great to know the absolute truth? The problem is that we think we already do.

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Launch Their Projects

Don't start another project. Launch it.

Give that project the energy, the momentum, the power it needs to focus on the goal, work the plan, and create something both useful and memorable.

Your project is worth it. Give that new start the focus it needs with a workshop that brings together all of the key constituents. Let your project team feel part of something special by celebrating before they even get started.

Giving your project a collaborative workshop launch could be the most high impact thing you could do for it.

What goes into a collaborate workshop launch?

You decide. I have found it helpful and energizing to include these:

A vision/mission for your team.  This could be your project goal, expressed in a way that drives some excitement into the projectA team identify. Depending on the project (and your budget) that could be as simple as matching T-shirts and coffee mugs, or as elaborate as a team name theme song, and videoCarefully prepared agenda. Make significant progress…

Solving Problems: Relax the Overwhelm

Have you ever tried TOO hard to solve a problem?

It's possible. I've been know to over-think a problem. People sometimes take the spaghetti approach -- throw a bunch of solutions at the problem and see what sticks.

Sometimes it works. It doesn't always. Sometimes finesse wins the day. Or patience. Or collaboration.

It isn't always necessary to overwhelm a problem in order to solve it. Maybe, like in the martial arts, it pays to let the problem fall on its own with just a gentle re-direction from you.

-- Doug Smith

Can Your Team Just Take a Shortcut?

Wouldn't it be great if there were a shortcut to greatness for teams?

A vitamin, a slideshow, a speech -- something that would get the team right where you want it right now.

As my friend Judi would say, "Wake up, you're dreaming!"

There are not shortcuts to team greatness. What is available is the planning, the talking, the coaching, the working, the problem solving -- the effort it takes to bond a cohesive and productive team together. There will be mistakes -- you'll survive. There will be temporary success -- you'll find a way to sustain it longer. There will be times of confusion -- let your vision see you thru.

Great teams are built on noble intentions and disciplined hard work.

Showing up everyday. Putting in the time. Making the effort. Learning, growing, and talking it thru.

Short cuts? Not available.

Hard work? Absolutely. Discipline? Worth developing!

-- Doug Smith

Achieving Your Goals: The Possibilities are Endless

Do you believe in endless possibilities? I'm not one of those people who believe that anyone can do anything if they just believe. Here's why. No matter how much I believe, I will never play major league baseball. Even if I could learn to hit a fastball (my reflexes haven't kept up with these young pitchers' arms!) let's face it: I'm way past the age of sports prime.

That doesn't mean there aren't plenty of other horizons to gaze into, explore, and travel. The possibilities don't shrink as we grow, they expand. They're just different.

It is primarily important to pick the right goals. Sensible, achievable goals. When we do that, the possibilities are endless.

I can't say that ANYthing is possible, what what IS possible is plenty. Seek that.

-- Doug Smith


Shameless Promotion Department

If you'd like to increase and improve your possibilities as a supervisor I can help you with that. It's wha…

Solving Problems: Avoid Making Assumptions

How good are you at avoiding assumptions. (Careful now, is that an assumption?)

We all make assumptions and it's almost always a mistake when we do. I'm working on taking Don Miguel Ruiz's advice on that from the Four Agreements: Don't make any assumptions.

I'm especially careful about it when it comes to answers, to solutions, to big changes. Assuming we have all the answers is highly questionable thinking. When we do that, it's time to ask more questions.

What assumptions should you stop assuming today?

-- Doug Smith

Look for and Listen for True Feedback

Are you a fan of feedback?

I once avoided it. Oh, I'd enjoy positive feedback as much as anyone. Truthfully, I loved it. But feedback for improvement? Or outright criticism? Yeah, go ahead and keep that to yourself.

Even when I taught other people that feedback was a gift, the negative feedback could stay wrapped up as far as I was concerned.

Then I realized that it's only feedback. It may or not be even true. It comes from one person's perspective and that is influenced by so many factors, much of it has absolutely nothing to do with me.

But more important than that -- there are things about my performance I miss. There are things that I don't see, don't hear, don't feel but that other people do and that effects their experience. Since I want my customers, my clients, my learners to all have the best possible positive learning experience when they work with me, the constructive feedback really does help me to do more of what is needed and less of what is not w…

Move That Goal Forward

I love a good goal. It makes me practically tingle inside with excitement. But hey, unless I design a robust plan and DO something about it, the goal just lingers there until it fades into the background of a busy day.

When you find a goal you like, do something. Identify the next possible thing you can do on that goal and DO it. Build momentum. Act.

High performance leaders create great goals and then ACT on them. Immediately, repeatedly, and regularly.

When a goal grabs your attention, do something to move it forward!

-- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Challenge AND Support

Teams fundamentally want and need two things from their leaders:

1. To be challenged, and
2. To be supported

You've got to have their back. You've got to protect their interests as well as the team goals. And you've got to challenge them to do more than they ever have before.

Stretch, grow, respond. It's what your team wants. Are you delivering high performance leadership?

-- Doug Smith

Retreat Is Just Another Tactic

What if retreat is part of the plan?

If our goals are truly ambitious, we will experience some difficulty achieving them. Tough goals cause us to stretch. Tough goals encourage us to grow, to adapt, to create. And, tough goals sometimes cause us to retreat.

I do not like to retreat. I do not like to come up short. My ambition is to plunge ever forward at rapidly increasing rates of speed. But sometimes, crap happens. Sometimes, that action item is bigger than expected and more challenging than it at first appeared. We might miss. We might retreat.

There does not need to be shame in retreating. It's just a dance step, really, leading to the next bold step up. We create some room, some breathing space. It's just a pause, or a parry. And then we leap ahead.

That's how it has felt with one of my exercise goals. I do well, and then something happens that distracts or delays me, and a day goes by with a missed goal. I am making peace with that while NOT letting go of the goal. …

Align Your Goals

Are your goals aligned with your mission?

That, of course, implies that you immediately know your mission. So, if you don't, isn't it time to either: a) memorize your mission, or b) create your mission?

We achieve our goals in order to achieve our mission.

When we've created true alignment in our efforts, when our goals support and bring about our mission, we gain the leverage to accomplish great things AND enjoy the process.

What do you think?

-- Doug Smith

Find Better Possibilities


Sitting still?

Blocked by some hardy wall?

The secret to motion is possibilities. The key to progress is motion. The heart of growth is uncovering what choices remain (and here's a secret to the secret, the choices are unlimited.)

It's a leader's job to find better possibilities and bring them to life.

Start digging.

-- Doug Smith

Keep Your Team Members Engaged

When someone leaves your team, what are they giving up on?

Does that sound like an abandonment issue? Is there something basically insecure to blame yourself when someone goes away?

It's not always the leader's fault. Sometimes people leave for their own private reasons that have nothing to do with the team leader. Still. Let's face it. Most of the time people leave a team because of an issue with their boss.

Do your people have issues? Do the ones who leave miss something fundamental about the team's mission, vision, and goals?

Keep your team members engaged in what's going on. Let them know your direction. Find out what they are looking for. Energize their sense of value and worth.

We don't (and can't) keep everyone on our team ON our team forever. But we needed see them leave too soon, either.

What will you do today to engage your team members?

-- Doug Smith

Strategies for Dealing With A Bullying Boss

Is your boss a bully?

A surprisingly large number of people in the workforce (over half!) have had a boss who uses bullying, Machiavellian methods of authority and control. It can be really tough to deal with, especially when you consider that the boss has ultimate (or so it would seem) control over your current career. They use that to their advantage, but there are things that we can do when faced with a bully boss.

Gleaned from several sources, I consider this list to be a work in progress. I'm interested in your ideas as well because as I conduct training on communication skills, leadership, and productivity many people struggle with what can only be defined as bad bosses.

Here are some things to do:

Remain assertive (not aggressive and NOT passive.) Maintain eye contact. (1)Do NOT rely on HR for help. They are NOT on your side.Document every incident with the person who causes you concern, including especially incidents of bullying, teasing, berating, harassing. Quietly build …

Building Your Team: Serving With Joy

How much time do you spend watching your team interact with its customers?

I know, time is hard to find. We all have commitments and goals to achieve. We all struggle with our various deliverables.

But, imagine the impact you could enjoy by spending more time with your team members.

Not to monitor. Not to spy on them. To enjoy their company, to reinforce your team values, to show them your own commitment to serving.

When the leader serves with joy and enthusiasm, that spreads to the rest of the team. They will follow your lead. You can't fake this, though. You must really enjoy interacting with and serving your customers. And if you don't, it's worth considering if you've yet to find the right calling and customers.

Healthy teams serve with joy.

Healthy service starts with the leader.
Who are you serving today?

-- Doug Smith

How to bring high performance leadership training to your location

Supervising for Success
Developing your front line leadership skills

Two things happen when you are promoted to supervisor. First, you lose your team's best technical performer (because that was you!) and second, you are thrust into a job that requires a completely new set of skills. 

Working side-by-side and setting a great example with customers is a good place to start, but supervisors and managers need so much more. In this in-person workshop you will explore, discover, and practice these key leadership skills:

Develop leadership capacity, strength and flexibilitySet and achieve your supervisory goalsHandle critical conversations confidentlyBuild collaborative, cohesive, results-based teamsDevelop more motivation in yourself, your team members, and your colleaguesDelegate work that develops your teamImprove productivityCoach to improve performanceFacilitate highly productive meetingsSolve team problems collaborativelyPractice preventing and responding to your most common superviso…

High Performance Leaders Do Not Hide

I had a boss once who said he had an "open door" policy. His intention was that people would feel that it was fine to wander in, ask questions and express opinions. The problem was, his door was usually physically closed.

Or he was in a meeting. Or with a client. Or out of town. Unavailable.

I'm sure that he wasn't really hiding, but to the team it felt the same as hiding. The door wasn't open.

A high performance leader does not hide.

High performance leaders make the effort to not only SAY they are available -- they ARE available. And, they don't hide fro the hard truths, the tough rumors, or the impatient requests of their people. Though careful listening, high performance leaders discover that hiding doesn't solve any problems and facing problems doesn't cause more problems.

Is your door open?

-- Doug Smith

A Tool for Neutralizing The Ravages of Marital Conflict

Is there a way to keep couples from drifting apart? Will adding one communication tool make a significant difference?

Tammy Lenski gives us a writing exercise to help marital couples in conflict. It should only take about seven minutes each time. That seems like an excellent use of seven minutes, to dramatically improve communication and connection between two people. I think it could also be useful in professional conflicts as well.

Here are the steps that she outlines:

How to do it
The writing intervention should be done by both people in the couple.After a significant conflict, write about it from the perspective of an impartial observer who wants the best for you both. How would they describe what happened? What view would they take of the conflict?Also write about what could prevent you from adopting this “neutral observer” point of view during future marital conflicts and what you can do to overcome those obstacles.If possible, identify even a single positive aspect to the argume…


Are you convinced about your mission? Does it drive every major decision and frame every goal?

It's not a casual concept. Believing in your mission is essential. There's no accomplishing what you set out to do unless you believe in and focus on your mission. Leadership success is no accident.

We mainly achieve what we first believe.


-- Doug Smith

Build Shared Goals

Few things are more powerful than shared goals.

High performance leaders find ways to establish goals that their whole team gets behind. Noble, ambitious, game-changing goals.

Once shared, they take on a power unmatched by individual goals. It's why leaders need teams. It's why high performance leaders build powerful teams.

Get the help you need, the inspiration you want, and the power that transforms. Build shared goals.

-- Doug Smith

No Need to Shout

Leadership need not be loud.

It is often softly spoken. A quiet conversation. A gentle tap on the shoulder. The focused eyes of truly listening.

Provoking deep thought, high performance leaders provoke great actions.

And sometimes, that is quite quietly.

-- Doug Smith

Develop Your Team Chemistry

Teams that enjoy spending time together are working with an advantage.

What's that advantage? The advantage of better relationships. A closely-knit team develops a quiet second language of understanding that is hard to define but easy to see. You just know. Few teams develop this second-nature way of working because they simply do not remain together longer enough for the chemistry and skill to emerge. But when it does, the team not only delivers astounding results, it enjoys doing it.

Why not enjoy achieving your results as a team? Why not develop your team chemistry, relationships, processes, goals, and results?

Build that team. You are not done.

- Doug Smith

Stay Persistently Courageous

Clarity requires courage to persist.

There are so many distractions and perspectives. People will even do their best (or worst) to cloud our vision and distort our truth. To remain clear, focused, and balanced takes large amounts of courage.

Stay clear on your values and then stay courageous about keeping them. You are not alone.

-- Doug Smith

Five By Noon

Development Exercise: 

Write 5 goals for the day and achieve them all by noon.

If it's past noon now, do it tomorrow. See how it makes you feel. Then, in the wise words of the shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.

-- Doug Smith

How to Be More Accountable for the Truth

Why do we lie?

That's a compelling question worth exploring. I once read that on average we tell about 26 lies a day. That's a lot of lying. But as leaders, don't we rely on our people to tell the truth? Aren't they (and our customers, and our families!) relying on US to tell the truth?

What if it's not exactly our fault? What if we can dramatically reverse the amount of lies we tell by adding a bit of mindfulness?

I like this video. It involves behavioral science and while it would be nice to have even more research on this, I do find the evidence compelling that very often we lie unconsciously. Watch the video and see what you think.

Interesting experiment?

What opportunities can you think of where you work to wake-up the moral foundation in your people? How can you remind people that you are counting on the truth?

High performance leaders must communicate for results. That means finding, and delivering, the truth. How can you hold yourself and others accountable…

Insist On Productive Meetings

Who needs bad meetings?

And yet, so often we tolerate them. We sit thru meetings where nothing is accomplished or where people are so uncomfortable that true and honest communication is avoided. It does not need to be that way.

When I have control over the outcome of a meeting, I make certain that it includes both careful planning and skillful facilitation. The planning includes:

The agendaThe goalsProcesses for achieving each goalAgreements and guidelines for how people behave during the meetingRoles (facilitator, time-keeper, recorder, and whatever else the meeting needs)Feedback / Evaluation Depending on the meeting, I might add other things such as warm-up activities, breaks, refreshments (and refresher activities.)
When I do not control the meeting, I seek to influence it in advance to include those things mentioned above.
When I do not control or influence the meeting, I decide ahead of time how necessary is it for me to attend, and if the answer is "not" then my respo…