Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Think About It

It is possible to agree too quickly. Talk about it to make sure that you understand the agreement.

Is it really what you want? Will you be able to live with this as a decision? Do you support the likely result?

An agreement is a choice. Make sure it is the right choice for you. Then, once you have made the agreement, keep it.

It's what high performance leaders do.

-- doug smith

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Honor the Absent

Do people in your organization gossip?

It's not harmless chatter. Gossip creates problems with reputations and generates disrespect. Without a person there to defend themselves, gossip is a poisonous mix of half-truth and hyperbole. It's bad stuff.

When I worked at GE we had a guideline that made perfect sense: honor the absent. If you wouldn't say something if someone was sitting right next to you, then do not say it. Honor their absence and their humanity.

Whether or not we agree with the goings-on and accounts of someone, if they are not there to defend themselves, maybe silence is the nobler path. Smearing them, swearing about them, and telling stories that are at least partially (and possibly, completely) untrue are behaviors that are beneath us. It's better to avoid gossip completely.

High performance leaders know that to communicate for results it pays to stick to the truth AND to respect the people involves. Respect your audience, respect your topic, respect the dignity of your organization.

It is possible to honor the absent without defending them. Tell your truth, without disparaging the reputation of someone not there to defend themselves.

What do you think?

-- doug smith

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Video Case Study: The Psychology of Tyranny - Alex Haslam

Did Milgram get it wrong?

This video raises some intriguing questions that are relevant to our studies of high performance leadership. It raises issues around obedience, control, leadership, followership, context, and even evil.

Watch the video (17:49) and then reflect on the questions below.

Reflection and Discussion Questions:

  1. What meaning regarding obedience have people commonly concluded based on Milgram's  research?
  2. What are the factors in play that effect the participant's willingness to continue with the experiment, even though it appeared to be inflicting pain?
  3. How did the context of the experiment effect the outcomes?
  4. What additional information was mentioned in the video that we don't usually hear about when it comes to this famous experiment?
  5. What is the surprising conclusion to this research when examined thru the lens of this talk?
  6. Given the circumstances as you understand them, would you have continued to administer the shocks past the point of safety?
  7. How did the subjects react when given direct orders?
  8. What does this tell you about the nature of influence and leadership?
  9. Could this knowledge be used for both noble and for evil intent? How do you respond to that? 
  10. As a leader, what use can you make of this information?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Respect Anyway

Do people need to earn your respect?

Some people do believe that it is necessary to prove yourself worthy of respect before someone should grant you respect. What's the problem with that? When we put ourselves into the position of judge we also open the door wider to being judged.

Can people tell when you respect them?  Undoubtably. We seem to have an inner radar that differentiates respect from disrespect -- or worse, disregard. We can tell, and we care. Deeply.

Whatever a person has done in the past that we might question, it is still possible to treat them with respect. Kindness, compassion, even love know no limits.

Respecting someone does not mean that you agree with everything that they've ever done -- or even with what they are  doing or saying right now. Respect means that you treat them with human dignity, fairness, compassion, and honor.

I know that it can be tough to show respect in the heat of an argument or when someone is not acting in a likable manner. It can be tough to respect someone who irritates the crap out of you. Hey...respect them anyway.

I will do my best. How about you?

-- doug smith

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Healing Silence

Silence in your anger gives it time to heal.
-- doug smith

Leaders Recognize Anger

Are your team members ever angry with you?

Whether you are a creative artist, a business person, a not-for-profit consultant...whatever -- when we are doing important, passionate work we will sometimes generate anger. It might be unexpected. It might be provoked. People get angry.

Anger can cloud our understanding. We can disagree. We disagree every day with some one (and sometimes it feels like half the world!) The better path, better than getting upset, is to clarify. If we disagree, we can figure out how to understand. Unless we understand, all the anger in the world is wasted energy. High performance leaders find ways to disagree respectfully while staying open to new possibilities. Ever been wrong? I'm wrong at least once a day.

Disagreeing with my truth is often useful. Getting angry at it seldom is.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Push Against Your Limits

Creativity, like leadership, requires us to stretch. To be at our most creative we must grow. Since we are surrounded by limitations, that can cause some discomfort. Which boundaries should we cross? Which lines are mental and which are metal?

How do we create without getting hurt (or worse, hurting?)

I'm not sure. Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe the question is -- what limits should we ignore today? What limits should we buck against and stretch?

If a limit is telling you that you are NOT creative -- ignore it.
If a limit is telling you that you cannot grow -- defy it.
If a limit is telling you that the world doesn't need your creativity -- laugh it off.

The world needs you. The world needs your creativity. The world needs you at your creative best.

The creative life pushes against limits.

Keep pushing.

-- doug smith