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Practicing Respect

Wouldn't it be great if respect came naturally and we didn't even need to think about it? It doesn't. We carry around so many tensions, stresses, and levels of bias that sometimes respect comes very hard indeed. It might even feel impossible. Respect takes practice. It takes practice to demonstrate respect all of the time, and so it is always practice. Intentional, studied, demonstrated practice. I'm still practicing. How about you? -- doug smith  
Recent posts

Silence or Apology?

Can you remember the last time you said something that you regret? Did it result in embarrassment? Maybe even an apology? It's certainly happened to me. It's even possible to say something that no amount of regret or apology can erase -- or even diminish. In other words, the harm is permanent and severe. Oh, if there was only a way to avoid that... There is. It's simple, but not easy. Simply pause. Before saying that "wonderfully outrageous" thing or "brilliantly sarcastic" comment pause long enough to take a few breaths. Embrace silence. A moment of silence can prevent a lifetime of regret.  If you need to, you can always say that incendiary thing in the future. But, you probably won't need to, and you'll be glad that you let the moment pass. -- doug smith

Go Deeper

Being absolutely sure of something means I've only explored one side. Not only is our individual perspective imperfect, it is also incomplete. Go deeper -- that's where the treasure lives. -- doug smith 

Not That Funny?

Are you gifted with sarcasm? Many people are. What's the harm, right? A little jokey joke here and there, just kidding, no big deal... What if it is a big deal? What if people misinterpret your jokey joke as a raging insult. Do you think it's possible that within every sarcastic comment there is a kernel of truth? That kernel of truth, once exposed, could lead to a productive and deep discussion of major issues -- or it could lead to the deterioration of a relationship. I leave it to you to decide which you think is more likely. Whenever possible (and...I think that is always...) I like to embrace humor while eschewing sarcasm. Why be bitter or biting when there are so many other ways to laugh? Kindness costs nothing while sarcasm leaves scars. Let's stay kind. -- doug smith

New Hires

Every time someone new joins your team, the whole team changes. Dynamics shift. Relationships move. Routines get modified and values get passed on or passed over.  Even if you've delegated the task of welcoming and orienting new team members (by the way, congratulations on delegating!) as the team leader you still have the profound responsibility of helping that new team member succeed in the service of the team and in the development of their individual goals. Ignore that responsibility, and everything slips. Focus on the value of each and every team member, and everything strengthens. Remember that a new hire is just learning what it takes to prosper in your team. Why not make certain that they learn successfully? -- doug smith  

Keeping Score

You don't need to keep score, but remember: someone is. Someone is paying attention to the way you handle feedback. Someone is monitoring your voice tones when you talk with team members. Someone is watching to see how you react when you are challenged. People, and especially leaders, are constantly evaluated. Will you be a perfect 10? Will you be a mixed up combination of varying opinions? Will you consistently treat people with the kind of respect and attentiveness that makes scoring irrelevant? High performance leaders relax on the scoring and focus on centering. Your self, your team, and some part of the world - all more centered, focused, balanced, and alive. (Oh, and don't worry -- it takes a lifetime to get there...) -- doug smith

Taking Command

Do even facilitative, participative leaders need to take command sometimes? However reluctantly, the answer is yes. But, reluctance is not necessary (or helpful) under the circumstances that require a strong leader to take command. In a crisis, under the duress of a situation hindering collaboration, when there is no time to the right situation, the leader simply must take command. How? With respect. With dignity. With urgency. We do not rip away the authority and influence of the group and we do not lock ourselves into a pattern of command-and-control as philosophy in the future. Here's what we can do to make sure that our sudden command is accepted, respected, and achieved: Plant the seed - even in quiet times, even when things are going smoothly and the team can make group decisions, high performance leaders let the team know what types of incidences will cause for command. Rely on an ally - the best leaders are still not perfect. Build relationships with a few trust

Insulting the Leader

We live in wild, wide-open times. People feel confident and entitled to say whatever they want, whenever they want, about whoever they want. Freedom of speech is wonderful, isn't it? Don't we value candor and honesty? Of course. And, we also value respect, decency, dignity, and truthfulness. When as leaders we are insulted should it be cause for alarm? We don't need to take insults personally, but we do need to take them seriously.  How we respond will set the tone. The ways that we react will set an example for everyone on our team (and many people off of our team) for leadership behavior. Can we remain professional, respectful, truthful? Can we manage our emotions? If the insult is true, that is valuable feedback. If the insult is false, there's no reason to get upset. High performance leaders remain leaders even when that leadership is disparaged.  -- doug smith  

Be Careful With That Power

Do you ever let your power go to your head?  Here's a sure sign that the answer is yes: if under pressure you invoke your job title. "Well, I'm the boss and here's what you need to do." Yes, it is sometimes necessary to invoke authority, but it always comes with side-effects. One of those side-effects is the habit of relying on that authority. It's fast, but builds shallow relationships. It's expedient, but what about those times that you are wrong? It's faster to force your views and authority on someone but sure to create resistance. What is better? It's better to pause, talk it through, find the mutually shared value, and focus on collaboration, rather than agitation. You'll enjoy the good results much, much longer. -- doug smith

Meet In The Middle?

Should we meet in the middle? When we find ourselves locked in a disagreement that won't resolve, stuck inside a problem that we cannot solve, let's take a step back. If we keep pulling apart, where does that take us? If we step a bit closer to each other, where does that take us? When our differences are poles apart perhaps we need to explore common ground in the center. -- doug smith  

Yes, It Is...

Think for a moment about a time when you did your best work. Think about a time when you found a flow, when time did not matter, when things seemed in harmony and when you did your best work. Wasn't that great?  You are not done. You are just getting started. Your best work is still ahead of you. You might need to get some bad work out of the way first, but hang in there. Seriously. Your best work is still ahead of you. -- doug smith  

On Silence

Sometimes I talk too much. Have you ever said anything that you regret? If you're telling the truth, I'm going to guess "yes." Leaders do that sometimes. And, while we owe it to our teams to speak up and express ourselves clearly, there are times when silence is better. Silence is better when the words you are about to speak are better spoken by someone else. Silence is better when the opportunity is for the team to learn from their own words and actions. Silence is better when the words we are about to say are in anger. How can we know the difference? When do we need to speak up and when do we need to shut up? Try this: pause for three seconds and at least one deep breath (more if you can.) Your answer may appear in that silence. -- doug smith