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Easy Answers

Are you looking for an easy answer?



We have so many simplified solutions these days. Our web sites give us big fonts to read, our phones send us reminders and even count our steps (got to get those 10k per day!) and our cars give us automatic transmission, power brakes, automatic lights, and soon will even drive themselves so that we can sit absorbed in our phones.

We've been getting used to easy answers. I'm not advocating giving back those easy answers - without a GPS I'd spend considerable time lost - but too much leisure also takes away muscle. We need the struggles of a tough solution to keep fit.

As tempting as it is, easy answers are not the only answers. We need a second light to see the shadows behind that all too easy to find solution. What are the complications? Who else is affected? What happens later?

Easy answers often play out hard. 

We need more than easy answers because easy answers sometimes play out hard. It's not all grab-and-go, sometimes we need t…

Withholding Communication Is Cruel

If something is bothering you, do you talk about it?

For years, I would push down my feelings and keep them all to myself. Do you know what good that got me? No good at all. Unless we talk about our outer AND inner lives, how can we expect anyone to help us, to join us, to feel influenced by us?

Withholding communication prevents you from feeling fully and dealing completely. Keeping it all inside keeps the air out. How you breathe in there?

Have you ever stopped talking to someone? Some people do it suddenly, ghosting the person they once talked to (maybe even someone they professed great love for) giving them no opportunity to understand what's going on. And some have more dignity than that - they TELL you that they won't be talking with you anymore -- and then they follow thru -- by not talking to you anymore. A person I once thought was the love of my life didn't just break up with me -- she cut off all communication.

Maybe you've done some degree of this. Maybe y…

How to Analyze Root Cause Using Mindmaps

The Five Why's is a famous and useful tool for conducting a root cause analysis in problem solving. I've applied the idea of asking why five (more or less) times to get at the root cause and applied it to mind mapping. Since many problems have more than one cause, applying the process to a mind map keeps the door open for identifying many possible causes. While any one may appear to be the root cause, it is only in comparing all of them that you can clearly see the best opportunity. Here's the process that I use:


Start your mind map by writing your problem in the center. (In the example above, Stairway Accidents is the problem.)Radiat out reasons why there is a problem. What are the causes? What causes that cause? ("what causes" is as useful as "why" and without the emotional turmoil.)For each cause, ask why it's true or what causes it. Why that cause? What causes that - and radiate out your answers.Some "what causes that" may produce more…

360 Focus Takes Help

Leaders, of any team, have limited vision. We can only see so much. What we see is also filtered thru our own beliefs and perceptions. A healthy self-image may add a positive spin to an otherwise cautious moment. An unhealthy self-image might make an otherwise positive experience incomplete. We need help seeing it all.

High performance leaders seek, receive, and utilize feedback. That means asking your team how you are doing. It includes talking (frequently) with your boss about your goals and how you are doing on your plan. Getting opinions from your customers also helps balance out your viewpoint. To truly know what's going on, leaders need to ask.

Are you asking? Are you getting the feedback you need from every direction that you need it? Today is a good day to ask someone who works with you, what's working great. And then, ask what you can do better. Because we can always do something better.

-- doug smith


Leadership Call to Action: Ask someone on your team to share with …

Mind Your Leadership Roles

What roles do you take on as a leader? Front line supervisors must own many roles, including some they may not enjoy. Supervisors must lead, consult, advise, counsel, discipline, confront, defer, decide, revive, inspire, deny, build, reduce, cut, maximize, minimize...all depending on the state of the organization and the mindset of the team.

When I was a supervisor, I did not enjoy the role of enforcer or disciplinarian, and yet those roles became necessary. I did have to enforce the values of the organization, even when they were inconvenient. I did have to discipline team members who had lost the ability to discipline their own behavior. Sometimes, sadly, that even involved saying goodbye.

Know the roles that you must play. Follow your roles when they harmonize with your values and your goals.

It's easy to ignore our most important roles, but it is a critical mistake to do so. As Grandmom Smith once said, "mind your roles." You'll be glad that you did. Maybe not t…

Use Your Leadership Strengths

Our leadership strengths are like muscles. The more we use them, the more we apply them to situations, the stronger our strengths become.

How many problems could stand up to you using all of your clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion?

Use your leadership strengths. Develop your leadership skills. Solve those problems and achieve those goals with the ease and elegance that you deserve.

-- doug smith





Build, Not Break

It's risky to ascribe motives to a problem. A problem is a situation, not an intention. And yet, we often do, don't we? We think of a problem with a personality out to do us harm. We can even think that a problem is out to break us, to wear us down until we don't matter. That is not true. The problem - the situation - does not care. When we pause to identify the goal that we want, instead of focusing on the problem, we can identify ways to achieve that goal and build our way out of trouble and into success.

A problem does not need to break you.

Problems are meant to build you, not break you.

-- doug smith




Go Beyond Analysis

Do you enjoy analyzing a problem? I can analyze all day long. It is useful, and it's even satisfying. But it does not solve the problem. Problems are persistent and do not care about your analysis. To fix a problem, we've got to do something.

Your problem will probably survive analysis. Do more.

-- doug smith


Leadership Call to Action: Think about a problem that you have been analyzing recently. If you have not already done so, write down all the possible causes of that problem.
What is your next step beyond analysis? What part of that step can you do this week?



Can You Stay Humble?

Have you known any leaders who let power go to their heads? Some people, once they gain leadership responsibility, allow their self-image and self-interests to take on outrageous proportions. But, leadership is not about selfishness. There is a major difference between healthy self-image and limitless self-interest. High performance leaders care about other people.

The results are important, and so are the people. To get there, to take care of people to such a degree that they of course work hard to achieve the desired results, a leader must control that ego. A leader must be humble.

You'll know when you are practicing humility: you'll be curious. You'll be patient. You'll be kind. If you're doing all that already, excellent and please continue. If you're not, the opportunity is there. True influence and power requires humility.

Humility is an early sign of understanding, and it's in the understanding that we begin to agree, to change, to grow, and to achi…

Learning Activity: Zip, Zap, Zoom Alternative

When I attended a regular acting workshop in Denver, Colorado we would often play a game called Zip, Zap, Zoom which some people loved and some people found frustrating. Even though I had great success with most improv games, this game did not work as well for me. That's why I offer this alternative.


Purpose:
To experience the frustration of playing a winning or losing game and then finding ways to convert that to a win/win game in order to develop a creative habit of looking for mutually beneficial outcomes.

Applications:
Conflict resolution. Communication skills. Team building.

Materials:
A writing surface and markers. Dots, or stickers (several for each player)


Process:
Play the game, Zip, Zap, Zoom conventionally in the first round. Form a circle of people, up to twelve people (for larger groups, break into multiple circles). One person starts by looking at a person to their left and saying either zip or zap. If zip, the next person turns to the left and has the same choice. If som…