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Showing posts from July, 2017

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