Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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

Monday, February 27, 2017

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

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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 for the truth today?

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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 agenda
  • The goals
  • Processes for achieving each goal
  • Agreements and guidelines for how people behave during the meeting
  • Roles (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 response is "don't." But I get it. Some times we are forced to go to meetings that make no sense for us and that we do not control or influence. Still, they waste our time or worse, antagonize our time and selves.

Here is one thing you can do in those cases:

Use that meeting time to leverage better future meetings.  Here's a way to do that: determine who is responsible for the meeting and ask if they would appreciate feedback on the results of the feedback. If the answer is yes, give your best feedback on ways to influence more productive meetings. Remember, stay positive. If the answer is "no" stay curious about that. Why is your feedback not important? Wouldn't more productive meetings mean better results? What if there were ways to create better meetings that everyone involved enjoyed more and worked better during?

Get better answers. Get the answer you want. Stay curious, stay open, stay curious, courageous, compassionate and clear -- and your chances of success (and enjoyment) improve dramatically.

High performance leaders insist on productive meetings. 

Shouldn't you?

-- Doug Smith

Monday, February 20, 2017

Building Your Team From Inside and Out

Teams are built from the inside - and from the outside.

I saw a message from a famous person today touting the merits of promoting from within. It build morale, it sends a clear cultural message, it motivates people on the team. That's all true. It's also true that our teams may not have every strength that we need to make it to the next level. It may be necessary to add some spice to keep growing.

Promote from within? Absolutely! AND build your team by constantly looking for talent interested in joining your cause.

Who do you know who might serve your team incredibly well, but is not yet part of your team?  Have you talked with them lately?

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Today, I Will Be Like Water

Have you ever encountered a problem that felt like a wall?

I have. I'm in the middle of one now. But today, I think I will be like water...

How you look at the wall is up to you.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, February 17, 2017

Set Your Goals Carefully

How closely aligned are your actions and your goals?

Does it even matter?

I believe that it matters a lot. When we set clear, bold goals they drive our actions forward -- AND, when we act boldly, quickly, and constantly we begin to rely more on clear goals. The two go together.

High performance leaders set goals carefully, knowing that they influence everything they do.

Set your goals carefully because they drive what you do.

And you do want to do the right things, right?

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

High Performance Leaders Use Two-Way Communication

It seems like a small detail. It's just a minor change in the process, or order date, or procedure. A simple decide-and-announce should be enough, right?

Not so fast. People in all kinds of organizations share one little thing: they do NOT like to be told what to do. People like input. People like feedback. People like to know that you are considering them. Even when there really is no choice on the direction, there is always a choice in the communication.

One-way communication invites resistance.

One-way communication stirs up chaos.

One-way communication creates uncertainty and delay.

Share your ideas. Share your thoughts. Share your proposes. And then invite responses. Welcome feedback. Listen, listen, listen.

One-way communication is sketchy. Give the conversation a chance. Talk about it.

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Building Your Team: Help Your Team Grow

What are you providing your team to grow today?

Is it training (in your products, in your services, in the skills they need to communicate and lead more effectively?)

Is it resources? Tools? Team chemistry?

The team leader creates the team chemistry, or not. When the team leader helps build an environment of trust, growth, challenge, and support the team has the tendency to prosper through growth. When a team leader ignores or diminishes the team chemistry, it can degrade to levels of dysfunction.

Your team is dynamic. It is constantly changing. Help your team grow. Keep it focused on the vision, serving the mission, and achieving its goals. That'll make you a coach, and a good one at that.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, February 10, 2017

Building Your Team: How's Your Style?

How important is leadership style on the performance of a team?

Incredibly so. Think about the best team you've ever worked on. It was a great team because

a) you achieved your team goals, and
b) you enjoyed yourself doing it and working together

The team leader's style matters. An autocratic, micromanaging leader (I'm sure you know a few) constrains a team and stifles its motivation. In the effort to control every little detail, a leader loses the big picture.

It's in the big picture view that quantum success awaits. It's in the chemistry of the team that champions are made.

Some leaders are not micromanagers, but they aren't much of a manager at all either. So completely hands-off and quiet that the team probably forgets who is in charge. That might feel safe. That might feel friendly. But team members need two fundamental things from their leader, and neither of the above type styles deliver on both. People need:

1. the feel supported by their boss, and
2. to feel challenged by their leader

Support AND challenge. It's not one or the other.

If you build the perfect team would your current leadership style keep that team together?

Once you have all the right people in place (a temporary situation to be sure) will they stay engaged, energized, and involved in the vision and mission of the team? Your leadership style will largely decide that.

Firm, when y ou need to be firm. Tough on the task, tender on the person. Focused on the vision. And relentless in pursuit of your team's goals.

How's your style? What are you doing to develop it?

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Building Your Team: Build Belief!

Does your team believe in itself?

Here's how you know that a team believes in itself:

  • Each person on the team can tell you the team's vision and mission
  • People are remarkably not focused on the clock
  • Smiles!
  • Team members are enthusiastic and positive
  • Team members come up with new ideas
  • Problem solving is a way of life, not a chore
A team must believe in itself to succeed. 

What are you doing to help your team believe more fully in itself?

-- Doug Smith

Help Your Team Reach Its Potential

A team's strength is often threatened by its weaknesses. High performance leaders attend to both.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What does my team do best? 
  • How am I making the best use of my team strengths?
  • Where is my biggest team opportunity? 
  • What small flaw in my team could grow into a major problem unless we take care of it?
  • What strengths do similar teams use that we lack?
  • What are we doing today to build our team?
Team building is never done. Left ignored, a team descends. Attended to carefully and constantly built, a team may reach its potential.

-- Doug Smith