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Showing posts from 2018

High Performance Leaders Show Respect

If you had to build a winning team, what kinds of team members would you recruit? I haven't ever heard anyone ever say that they'd start with subpar performers. No one wants to build a team of strugglers. Wouldn't we rather have a perfect team?

Ah, yes, but there are NO perfect performers, are there? We are all flawed. We are all in various stages of growth. Superstars, as well as subpar performers all need to grow, all need to develop. How do we do that best?

As high performance leaders we must do two fundamental things very well. First of all, we must support our team members. Give them the resources, the training, the attention, and the respect that they need in order to prosper.

The second fundamental we must master is to challenge our team members. Challenge them in ways that they've never been offered before. Give them tough projects, delegate them advanced tasks, push them beyond their initial expectations until they see their own potential as something to work…

Days Like Today...David Spiegel

This is a guest entry from my friend and fraternity brother, David Spiegel. He's a hard-working, deep-loving family and business person who shares his insights on a daily (almost!) basis. I like the positive nature of this entry and I have some leadership questions for you to contemplate after reading...

Today is one of the days of the year that I truly enjoy. As the rest of the world seems to be shutting down from the mundane and gearing up for the upcoming holiday,we are busy doing business!
When I arrived at The Grooming Shoppe this morning, Becca had already opened, brought in our first client, put on the Christmas music and straightened and cleaned up the front end. We were ready for action on what should be one of our busiest days of the year. Truth be told, we were actually busier on the Saturday before Christmas last year. It was the single busiest day we ever had.
It's not that we have any less business. On the contrary. Becca has done a marvelous job of scheduling b…

Stretch Without Breaking

Leaders are likely to rock the boat. Leaders are likely to push the edge in order to get beyond the normal and into the extraordinary. To achieve great things, leaders act fast and decisively. But not too fast and not too decisively -- it does pay to consult with your team, with your followers, with your customers, with your constituents. What do they expect? What do they want? What do they suggest? You might still decide what you were going to decide, but you might gain insights that make your actions easier, better, faster, and more in harmony with the needs of those around you.

Push. Absolutely. And listen while you do. And do get the feedback and information you need to know what the legal boundaries are. They may be dynamic, but their effects are reliable.

High performance leaders test boundaries without breaking laws.

-- doug smith

Leadership Is More Than Power

Leadership is more than strength and much more than power.

Leading by strength alone ultimately fails.

High performance leaders find balance, centeredness, subtlety. They exercise a skillful combination of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion. And they do not give up or force the issue thru strength alone.

Leading by strength alone ultimately fails.

Why fail? Learn, and then do better.

-- doug smith

I'm still learning. How about you?

It's More Than The Money

I'm a fan of the arts. My high school yearbook blurb read "quiet, natural guy. Music, art and poetry are for him" and it's still true. Art matters.

Quality matters. Feelings matter. We are blessed with so many important tones and shades and notes in life and yet so much of our life is devoted to the singular note of money. Sure, we need money. Absolutely, I understand the quest for increasing one's wealth. I'm not saying that money is not important. It's just not alone in importance.

Money also makes a rough master. I've seen organizations make strategic decisions based only on the monetary factor and then get it dead wrong. Money doesn't care, and when the vortex points in a direction, even if it's the opposite direction you'd figured on, there it goes.

Making decisions based only on money can suck the heart right out of a direction. It can hurt people.

Money is important, it just works less effectively when it becomes all-important.


Sing In Your Own Voice

A long time ago, in a place not so far away, I was sitting in the living room of my college apartment (that I shared with at least three fraternity brothers) playing guitar and singing a Neil Young song. I was a tenor back then (or almost so) and I was affecting the tone and timbre of Neil himself. Or, so I thought.

One of my roomies, Skip, is one of the kindest people I've ever known, so you have to know that when he gave me feedback it was in the most gentle and compassionate way possible. In essence, though, what I heard was "you should sing in your own voice. We already have one Neil Young, and he does himself the best..."


The full impact didn't hit me until years later. The importance of finding your authentic voice is a part of finding your leadership style and therefore your effectiveness. You could (and I have) imitate other leaders in hopes of harvesting their success. It's no good. We each must be who we each must be. When we find that -- when we f…

Keep Improving

Do you ever get impatient with small improvements and crave one big leap to the next level? Big changes are great. Geometric revolutions out-excite evolutions every time. But they're not the only way to grow. In fact, it's the small, incremental improvements that prepare us for the big leaps. It's the small changes that facilitate the greater gains.

Incremental improvement is just as hard as geometric improvement -- and just as necessary.

-- doug smith

Remember What You've Learned

Hard fought lessons can be forgotten. What we forget can't help us.

It's easy, but foolish, to disregard the lessons of the past.

Remember what you've learned and your learning will serve you well.

-- doug smith

No Excuses

When I worked at Whole Foods, my store leader once said to me "We live in the land of no excuses..." Not that I was making excuses, but if you came close enough, Bruce would let you know that no one really cares about your excuses. "No one cares about how hard you tried," Bruce said, "They just want results."

High performance leaders produce results. Ever increasing, ever improving results. Results come from action, not excuses. No matter how good that reason is for not doing something, it's still not done.

Excuses delay. Action pays.

Take action.

-- doug smith

No Complaining

Lou Grant was the boss on the Mary Tyler Moore show. In many ways, he was a model for how NOT to lead, not because he was a bad boss but because most of us could not pull off that level of brash management backed up by a lightly disguised heart of gold. I've seen a lot of bosses get the brash but forget the heart.

I mention that because of something Lou Grant said in an early episode - the one where he first meets Mary -- when he was briefing her on office norms. "I don't have a lot of rules, " Lou said, "because then I'd just have to enforce them..." and then he gave her one (which I forget.) Rules are often forgotten and often poorly enforced. But here's a useful guideline: don't complain.

There isn't one team member on your team who is looking forward to you complaining. There isn't one executive at your organization who is hoping that you'll lodge a complaint or two. I'm not talking about really big complaints -- if someone …

Talk About Your Goals

Are you talking about your goals?

Unless you demonstrate enthusiasm for your goals by talking about them with others you may well find yourself blocked. Goals without enthusiasm struggle to bubble to the top. It's easy for busyness to cloud over your vision and keep you mired in the day-to-day.

That's what goals are for. Ambitious, noble goals. Goals that inspire you and lift your team to the next level. Goals that propel you toward success.

Any goal you don't talk about is slowing you down.

Talk about your goals.

-- doug smith

Doug Smith Training: Developing Leadership Skills

Loyalty Is Earned

How does it feel to work for a leader who demands loyalty but does not deserve it? That's frustrating and in the end, impossible. Loyalty is important, but comes as a product of loyal behavior. To be loyal to a leader, we must know that the leader:

is also loyal to uslives the values that we are held tofollows the practices that the organization has deemed necessaryearns that loyalty by developing honest, open, caring relationships Not every leader will qualify, even though probably every leader craves loyalty. It does not come with the title, it must be earned and deserved.
A leader who demands loyalty does not deserve it. A leader who deserves loyalty need not demand it.
-- doug smith

Patience Before Judgment

If you lead long enough (ten minutes will probably do) you will discover a difficult person. Some days it will seem like teams filled with difficult people who are impossible to manage.

You can't change all those people. What you can change is how you interact with them. Maybe there's a way to reach them. Maybe they aren't difficult at all but in a difficult place. Maybe all they need at this moment is a compassionate AND courageous leader who can patiently coach them to better choices. Maybe. What won't help is rapid judgment and condemnation.

Some people really are too difficult to manage, but we should be patient and careful before reaching that conclusion.

Given patience, all that difficulty turns into a problem that can be solved. And that - solving problems - is what high performance leaders do.

-- doug smith

Team Building Never Ends

What are you doing to build your team? Do you have the talent you need assembled to achieve your mission?

Teams are dynamic, constantly changing moving targets. Just when you think you've got your team figured out and moving forward, someone leaves or someone enters and the whole chemistry reacts in unexpected ways.

It's like juggling three balls and having one of them turn into an egg. It's like riding a bike and having it lose all but one gear. It's like painting a picture and realizing that the paint hasn't dried from the last time you painted, resulting in an unsatisfying gray smear.

It's not always like that, but team building can be tough. High performance leaders keep at it. They keep developing their teams and they know that the building never stops. There are no perfect teams which means that the road to perfection must always be navigated. Keep going.

If you don't build your team someone else will diminish it.

Keep building.

-- doug smith

Invest In Yourself

Have you ever known someone who clearly needs training and isn't getting it? Or, maybe you've had a moment of your own when you could have bought that book or joined that workshop and decided to cut corners?

No need to feel any shame about that; I've done it, too. But what if we took another approach? What if we always chose yes to opportunities for developing ourselves?

Invest in yourself. Develop yourself. Learn constantly. Grow. It's the path of power even though it's not always free.

If you don't invest in yourself who else will?

-- doug smith

The Value of Learning

Do you have any regrets? I've got a few regrets. Relationships that didn't turn out the way they should have. Projects that could have generated more interest and results. Purchases that should have remained in the store. Food that should have remained on the plate.

Even high performance leaders have regrets. Here's how I shake myself free of those pesky regrets (because all they are doing is making productive time reductive time) : figure out the lesson. Learn the lesson. Identify the learning and move on.

You'll never regret a lesson learned. But, the regret is yours until the lesson is.

Learn the lesson.

I'll work on that today. How about you?

-- doug smith

Your Other Mission

You are no doubt a busy person. You have important goals, important tasks, and an important boss somewhere to please. Oh, and you have something else, too.

You have a noble mission to become the best person you can be.

Keep it going.

-- doug smith

Treat People With Kindness

"Wait, you mean I have to achieve all my goals, earn tons of money for the company, AND be nice to people?"

Umm, yes. But remember, kindness does not cost anything at all. When leaders practice human decency they can gain better results anyway, so why not stay kind?

Quick ways to treat people with kindness include:

Listening without judging. Sometimes people just need to vent. In any case, few of us ever believe that we are listened to enough. Listen!Treat people with respect. Honor their presence with your attention. Show courtesy in social norms and situations that may vary from person to personDo the right thing. Say the right thing. Act in ways that show people are important to you Leaders are not responsible for other people's feelings, but we are responsible for treating people with kindness.
-- doug smith

Happy Launch Pad!

It's annoying. It's in need of attention. It's a distraction. And - it's an opportunity!

A problem is a platform for your advancement.

Get on board and move forward!

-- doug smith

Improving Performance - Don't take it personally

If you lead long enough, people on your team will struggle with performance. When their best is not good enough, work with them to improve. If you take it personally or make it about you, it becomes even harder for them to improve and soon effects your performance as well.

A leader who takes poor performance personally is performing poorly.

What to do? Identify your expectations. Uncover hidden barriers. Find out what stands in the way between your team member and success -- and then help them to deal with it.

-- doug smith

Getting Over Being Difficult

Wouldn't it be great to be perfect? Or, maybe it wouldn't. I will never forget seeing a puppet show (yes, I said puppet show) in New York City, many years ago, with the essential flow of dialogue being something like this:

"I want to be the very best! The very best best!"
"But not too good. Be the best but not the best best!"
"I want to be the very best. So good. But not too good."
"Because if you were too good, people wouldn't like you."
"It's not good to be too good."

...somewhat over and over in that manner -- outright saying that it's possible to be too good.

It was funny then. But it wasn't true then and it isn't true now. You probably can't be too good. But, in the pursuit of good (or whatever else you're chasing) it IS possible to be difficult. Haven't we all been difficult?

Here's the thing (there's got to be a thing!): we do NOT always realize it when we are being difficult. It&…

Goals Are There For You

The trouble with assigned goals is that it's within our nature to avoid them. That's true even if YOU are the one assigning the goal.

The first question for any goal is: what is your motivation to achieve it? What will you get out of it? How will it make you feel?

If those answers come hard to you, it might not be a goal for you.

Question any goal that doesn't promise to make your life better.

-- doug smith

What Is Your Strategy?

Are you comfortable with uncertainty? Or does it make you a little edgy.

We live with much uncertainty. What will the stock market do? What will our customers want next quarter? What is our competition up to? How do we find and retain the best talent? What style of leadership suits our team the best?

Lots of uncertainty. Unless we plan carefully, the amount of uncertainty we deal with magnifies. It grows. Take a little uncertainty, and ignore it, and it grows. Yikes.

Uncertainty is not your friend.

Still, as high performance leaders we must not only tolerate some uncertainty, we must embrace it. What if it is in the little in-between unknowns where the biggest change is coming? What if by staying uncertain about a certain detail we open up more possibilities. We can't be ambiguous, yet we can be open to the unexpected as opportunity.

Uncertainty is not your enemy. You need some uncertainty. Just not so much that nothing gets planned, built, or created. Leaders sometimes impose or…

How Will You Respond?

Everyone will lie to you.
The two key questions are:
how will you know, and
how will you respond?

-- doug smith

No Magic Needed

Have you ever known someone who seems to be waiting for a miracle before they make any major change? Miracles are great in stories. I also do believe that miracles happen. Things beyond our power may intervene in our behalf.

It's risky to wait and rely on miracles, though. If the power you need is power outside of yourself how will you ever get it? What can be done right now with what we have is where we begin.

It wasn't magic that brought you here and you don't need magic to improve.

Just get moving.

-- doug smith

Don't Take Someone Else's Pain Personally

Someone who yells at you is feeling pain that has nothing to do with you.

You might be able to help, but you don't ever need to take it personally.

And taking it personally makes it hard to help.

Stay curious. Find out what's going on.

-- doug smith

Use Your Fear

Fear is a funny thing. It warns us. It gets in the way. It protects us from harm. It prevents bigger achievements. Fear is a funny thing.

Nothing to laugh at, but nothing to surrender to, either. What if that fear is telling you something other than avoidance? What if it is really excitement bubbling up to energize your next great achievement?

Maybe that fear is there to help you move forward. Take caution, of course. Weigh all the choices and ramifications. But mobilize!

What you're afraid of really wants to help you.


-- doug smith

Don't Let a Lie Stand

Can you tell when someone is lying to you? Do you call them on it? Do you stay curious enough to explore what's behind what feels like a lie?

How about when you catch yourself stretching the truth or simply leaving out an important detail? You're better than that, right? High performance leaders are better than that. You can handle the truth, AND you can deliver the truth. Consistently, insistently, tell the truth.

The adjustment from a lie to the truth may be troubling at first but it's eventually liberating.

The truth rules.

-- doug smith

Give It Your Best

Give it your best and give time to the rest.

The rest will work itself out, while you get better.

-- doug smith

Career Courage

Where is your career headed?

Ask some people, and they know exactly and will tell you. Maybe they'll get there, and maybe they won't, but they are on their way. I've been working a long time and have seen my career take some unusual turns. I wouldn't change any of it! And, part of the reason I am completely happy with my own career is that while I was working on other things, I always had my dream in mind as well.

How about you?

As you work on other things (paying bills, raising children, serving a cause) are you keeping your dream alive as well? It takes guts and my experience tells me it's filled with disappointment, and yet it's also filled with adventure, surprise, and joy.

For all that, it takes courage. It takes taking charge.

Steer your career with courage, not fear. Whether you get there or not, courage makes it easier to sleep at night...

-- doug smith

Work On Your Top Goal

How much time today have you spent working on your top goal?

Now is a good time to look at your top goal and work on it.

That's why it's your top goal.

-- doug smith

Perfect Practice

Practice doesn't necessarily lead to perfect. What can we truly achieve perfection in, other than imperfection? We do, however, strive for perfection. In the striving we made strides and in the strides we expand. We won't achieve perfection, but we will improve.

Practice only leads to perfection when it includes feedback and correction.

...and even then, it's not perfection, is it??

-- doug smith

Invest in the Truth

I don't put much stock in lies, how about you? Because I never want to be lied to, I work my best to avoid lying to others. Leaders communicate for reasons they believe are important. If the result is important enough, it's far better to rely on telling the truth to get there than in fabricating some fantasy that will eventually be discovered. The truth always rises to the top anyway, why not start there?

Communicating for results takes an investment in the truth.

-- doug smith

Find The Flaw In Your Thinking

How does it feel like when your mind is foggy? For me, fogginess happens when there are an overwhelming number of choices, or possibilities, or the problem seems to cut so deep that only a tourniquet will help. Fogginess can also come from incomplete thinking - we stop at a place that makes sense to our unseen bias, and move forward without looking for other facts.

Flaws in our thinking develop when our thinking is misdirected (it was true about something else so it must be true about this), polluted (that advertisement is just SO convincing), corrupted (it might not be exactly right but it's good for me), and any of dozens of factors that fog our thoughts.

The flaw that blocks you knocks you off center. The flaw that deceives you leaves you without a real solution.

Find the flaw in your thinking while you can still find it, or the problem is yours to keep.

-- doug smith

Level Up It's challenging to think about what we think about. Our minds don't always see the shortcuts…

Teleclass: How to Communicate More Effectively

When: Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 12:00 Noon ET $30 / 30 Minutes

It's on every list of key leadership skills. It's on the minds of every recruiter, manager, executive, and team member: communication.

How to Communicate More Effectively is 30 fast moving minutes for you to explore key levers that will immediately improve your communicate skills. We'll explore and practice five key communication skills that, once practiced, will give you:

Deeper conversationsMore productive meetingsMore powerful presentationsBetter relationships Join with me in playing with the CLUES to Success model for developing and sharing more communication effectiveness.
You'll get a downloadable learner's guide plus 30 minutes of instantly usable skill building.
Register for the teleclass here.

Preview and download the Learner's Guide here.

Disagreement Clarifies

One of the biggest mistakes I've made, many times, was assuming that someone agreed with me. That's a dangerous practice. It feels easier to agree. It just isn't always the agreement we think we have.

High performance leaders constantly clarify the truth. They clarify meaning. The granular details reveal the truth. Abstractions keep us smiling and nodding. Clear communication sparks the awareness needed to see true disagreement.

Disagreement can be the start to understanding, and without understanding there can be no true agreement.

The more clearly we communicate the more likely it is that someone will disagree with us.

Then we know where we stand, and the direction we need to move.

-- doug smith

Admit Your Mistakes

Teams are busy. When a team pushes the creative edge, mistakes happen. Team members make mistakes, and team leaders make mistakes.

Admit your mistakes and commit to improvement to encourage your team to do the same. It build character, it builds capacity, it builds better teams.

-- doug smith

Try Discipline On For Size

Do you know what big goals need? Big attention! They need focus. They need action. To get this, it takes discipline.

Habits that lead to completing an action plan help you to achieve your goals. Habits like scheduling key tasks (instead of just listing them), finding a way to hold yourself accountable (like telling someone about your goal), and getting the help you need from your team are the habits that work. You no doubt use some habits of your own. There's no beating the habit of discipline: sticking to something until you are done. As my dad used to say, "a job half done isn't done at all." Get things done with discipline.

Even when it stops being fun and when obstacles stand in the way. Let your strength found in discipline find the way.

Discipline is your biggest goal's best friend. Keep it going.

-- doug smith

Share Your Goals

Who do you tell about your goals?

Do you regularly get feedback on the strength of your goals, or (how about this) how compelling your goals are? (I was tempted to say how "cool" but maybe that's dated now and then I was going to say how "dope" they are presuming that is the new cool but hey, let's stick to compelling.)

Your goals matter. When you talk about them, they become more real. You can sort them out, edit them, revise them, and most importantly drive them. Get them done.

Finding someone to share your goal with doubles your chance of success.

I just made that up, but it sounds right to me. What do you think?

-- doug smith

How to Achieve Your Goals - Teleclass on Oct. 11 at 11:00am ET

Teleclass on October 11 at 11:00am ET 30/30 - 30 minutes for $30

Discover a five-step process for achieving your leadership goals. In thirty fast minutes you'll be on your way to setting and achieving high performance goals. The hand-out is filled with information and activities that will direct you toward a faster, much more fun path toward achieving your goals.

You can preview, and download, the Learners Guide here.

Please register before October 10 at 11:00pm to attend this telecasts on October 11 at 11:00am

Register for the teleclass here.

Ten Keys to Leadership Success - Teleclass on Oct. 10 at 11:00am ET

30/30 - 30 minutes, $30 Leadership Teleclass on October 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

Ten Keys to Leadership Success

Explore ten key ways to quickly improve your leadership performance. But it's more than a list. You'll also hear how to implement these keys in your leadership role. Perfect for new leaders and people who have recently been promoted to leadership (or expect to be soon!) And, even if you're NOT a new leader, it's never too late to get yourself on track for truly high performance leadership.

Next session: Wednesday, October 10 at 11:00 am ET
Only $30

Download the Leaders Guide here

Paint Your Masterpiece

Have you painted your masterpiece yet? Have you utilized your gifts to their fullest and produced something that will last?

High performance leaders consider their legacy as they work and build toward a future where that work is remembered. I am thrilled by how much we as leaders can integrate our various skills into the work of leading. It's all connected. Find ways to connect what you love with what you do and you will always love what you do.

As a trainer and consultant, I am constantly finding new ways to blend my enthusiasm for the arts into my work. Maybe it's a song, maybe it's a collage, maybe it's a bit of acting in a story that I tell -- it's all part of the tapestry of the work. I may not have painted my masterpiece yet, but I am practicing every single day.

How about you?

-- doug smith

About Those Goals

You're going to set goals anyway, why not set goals that bring you joy?

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action:
Read thru your list of goals. Find the one that makes you smile the most. Do that first. Work on that goal right now...

When Necessary, Go Deep Inside

How much of that difficult problem is our own doing?

Do you remember the last time you caused yourself your own problem? I seem to do it enough that it's like a secret power: cue up the situation, make it more complicated, then dig my way out.

I've learned to check in on what part of the problem I have contributed to. Rather than blaming someone else (they don't want the blame and it's probably not true anyway) it's better to see how the problem is built of smaller pieces and that some of those pieces came from your closest source: yourself.

Think it thru, I tell myself, think it thru. Breathe. Figure it out. What did I do to create this situation and what can I change to improve or solve it?

Problem solving sometimes requires a level of self-examination we are reluctant to try. But sometimes going deep inside is the only way out.

-- doug smith

Stay Curious

Do you remember how it felt to be a young child filled with curiosity? I probably forgot until I became a parent and saw how curious my own children were. Everything was something to be explored and discovered. And then, when I became a grandfather, I felt a curiosity recharge as it surrounded me with the enthusiasm of young children.

Curiosity is powerful. It opens up possibilities. It wards off our inner judge long enough to truly explore, without bias, what's going on. When we can keep that level of curiosity alive we learn, we grow, we discover. Stay curious.

Curiosity is more powerful than rhetoric, dogma, or unquestioned truth.

Stay curious.

-- doug smith

Slow Down and Enjoy The View

I once had a friend (OK, much more than a friend) who wrote a lovely song with the words "slow down and enjoy the view." It made perfect sense in 1977 and it makes even more sense now. We're in such a hurry. We're focused on our goals and on our results. We drive, drive, drive our people to do ever more -- faster, and better. Sometimes, though, we need to breathe.

When a high performance leader shows that it is OK to take the time to breathe, that it's OK to slow down once in a while to center yourself -- that pays off for the whole team.

Sure, achieve those goals. And -- take care of yourself and your team as you do great things.

The ride is never long enough so don't miss the view.

-- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Grow

Grow yourself. Grow your people. Grow your organization.

Growth produces strength, resilience, and opportunity.


-- doug smith

Tell the Truth

Lies. Half-truths. Broken promises. Deceit. Distorting the truth. Hiding the truth. Secrets.

We all lie, but we don't all have to lie. We can choose the truth. We can be polite, respectful, kind, and still tell the truth.

Every lie breaks a promise.

Tell the truth.

-- doug smith