Wednesday, March 22, 2017

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

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 your case. (1)
  • Avoid talking about the problem person but DO maintain healthy relationships with the people you work with. When you can, keep them nearby when you must encounter the difficult boss.(1)
  • Present your ideas in a way that allows your tyrannical boss to take at least partial credit. (2)
  • Choose your battles wisely and control your emotions when confrontation is necessary. (2)
  • Talk about it with the difficult boss. (5) As tough as that conversation might be, it likely is necessary. It's a great time to practice your CLUES to Success
Something else to consider comes from the thin book "How To Deal With Difficult People" by Paul Friedman:

"Keep in mind that the difficult people you encounter usually think you're the one who's being difficult." (p.42)

The good news on that? You do control YOUR behavior. Maybe there's something you can do to create a better relationship.

I realize that's not always true, which is while I've listed the tactics above. People are complicated, and sometimes they're difficult. The bully for a boss is one of the worst.


  1. 10 Tips for Dealing With A Bullying Boss - from CIO. Lots of pages to click thru but some nuggets of useful information, especially if people-skills is not your core strength.
  2. How Successful People Overcome Toxic Bosses - Breaks down bad bosses into different types (such as the Micromanager, the Tyrant, The Incompetent, The Robot...) and provides tacts for dealing with each type.
  3. The Machiavellian Boss - From Psychology Today. Short on advice but rich with detail describing the traits of a Mach and how they score on key leadership suppositions. Useful to gain insights into the motivations of a tyrant or devious boss who oddly enough believes their behavior is productive and even noble.
  4. Your Boss Isn't Just a Psychopath, It's Way Worse Than That - From FastCompany's FastCoExist illustrates the problem of a bad boss and offers the skills you need to navigate office politics (even if it leaves a bit of a sour taste for you): Astuteness, Effectiveness, Networking, The Appearance of Sincerity). That last one is the one that might cause the distaste. The point of the article, agree or not, is that one in five business communications is a lie and we either navigate that or fall victim to it. While I'm not sure about that, see what you think.
  5. How To Deal With Difficult Co-Workers: It's not just your boss who might be difficult. Molly Triffon examines six common difficult types (The Complainer, The Idea Stealer, The Bully, The Slacker, The Gossiper, The Know-It-All) and what to do with them.
  6. How To Deal With Difficult People, Revised Edition - Paul Friedman, SkillPath Publications, 1994, Mission, KS 

Links have a way of changing or going away, so if you find a busted link in this list and you let me know about it I will fix the list.  Thanks!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

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 flexibility
  • Set and achieve your supervisory goals
  • Handle critical conversations confidently
  • Build collaborative, cohesive, results-based teams
  • Develop more motivation in yourself, your team members, and your colleagues
  • Delegate work that develops your team
  • Improve productivity
  • Coach to improve performance
  • Facilitate highly productive meetings
  • Solve team problems collaboratively
  • Practice preventing and responding to your most common supervisory challenges
  • Plan, align, and prioritize your work to optimize your results

What to ExpectYou’ll take advantage of your natural gifts and strengths while developing the ability to grow and utilize the other essential leadership skills.

Who Should Attend

Supervisors, front line leaders, and team members preparing to move into leadership. 

Length of Program 

One day accelerated overview, or
Two-day intensive with more practice developing the skills you need most.

For more information on how to bring this workshop to your location, please contact me:

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

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

  1. The writing intervention should be done by both people in the couple.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. If possible, identify even a single positive aspect to the argument.

Read her post for more information on this tool here.

Or listen to her podcast of the article here.

Monday, March 6, 2017


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

Sunday, March 5, 2017

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

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