Take Charge of Your Own Learning

Are you getting all the training that you need?

As a leader, are you able to schedule all the training you want, whenever you want it?

It's tough to do with budget constraints and time limitations. I can think of dozens of leadership programs I would have LOVED to attend when I was working in corporate life and, while I was truly fortunate to be able to attend many of them, some just feel outside of our time or budget constraints.

That's why I'm now offering a flexible alternative. Lean, focused teleclasses that you can schedule, just like an appointment. I call them Teleclass appointments. Schedule one, or schedule the whole bunch. Each one is fairly priced and sharply focused. In thirty minutes you will learn a key skill or explore a high impact tool which you can than apply.

The very affordable price ($30 for most of them) is payable when you make the appointment. Book it just for yourself or invite a friend to share your line at the same connection and it's still the same price.

Thirty minutes. Thirty dollars.

Take charge of your own learning. Book a teleclass.

-- doug smith

Your Team Needs You

Successful leaders find ways to develop the talent on their team so that the tasks of leadership (mainly, management tasks to handle the day-to-day operation) can be shared with other team members. Until you can delegate you are stuck doing the same old tasks. Sharing the work frees up the team leader while also developing the team members. It's the right approach.

Still, your team does need you. Even developing your team to the point where nearly every major task is handled by the team (even scheduling, delegating, assessing, interviewing...) the team leader provides a sense of direction not obtainable any other way. The team leader sets the tempo AND the temperature of the team. The team leader sparks the pulse, ignites the flame, defines the lines.

Just because your team can function without you doesn't mean that your team can function without you.

Stay in the game. Stay in the team. You are in charge.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action: 

  • Success team leaders do these two things simultaneously: develop team members AND provide direction. Today, do something that will develop the skills of at least one team member (for example, you might delegate a task that is a bit of a stretch for them) AND at your next team meeting make it a point to speak with every member of your team and using that contact time to reinforce your vision for the team's success for the months ahead.
Building your team - doug smith training

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 they take on the way to a conclusion. What if that conclusion is incorrect. Let's level up on jumping to conclusions. Build a bridge to a better conclusion. Take the time to breathe, construct a solid level of reasoning, and think. Pause. That perfectly good thought you are having is capable of finding yet another perfectly good (and perhaps better) idea. Keep thinking.

Leadership Call to Action:

Today, before disagreeing with someone or an idea, take a moment to breathe and examine the possibilities. What if your thinking is in some small way flawed on this? Where could the flaw be? Who would have more information on this?

Examine your truth, to see if it's true.

No Need to Blame

What does anyone get out of blaming anyone else?

It's easy. It's even reflexive. It just doesn't help.

Find the problem, identify the issues, and solve it. There's plenty of responsibility to go around. Work together as a team, and the team will work better together.

Team members who give each other the benefit of the doubt do much better when stress intrudes than any team that finds it easy to blame.

-- doug smith

Teleclass: How to Communicate More Effectively: Oct. 23 at 12:00pm ET

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

Teleclass: How to Communicate More Effectively

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 conversations
  • More productive meetings
  • More powerful presentations
  • Better relationships
Join with me in exploring 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.

Give Your Team Your Best

Supervisors can't insist on everything. Your people have lives. Your people have limitations. You do want to get the most out of your team. You do that by making reasonable demands and framing somewhat ambitious yet achievable expectations.

Push your people, don't break them. Inspire them without tiring them out.

Building your team is a process. Some of it is in the group dynamics, and some of it is person by person. Give it your best, and see what you get from the rest.

No one has to give their team everything as long as everyone give the team their best.

-- doug smith

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

Thursday, October 11
11:00 am ET to 11:30
30/30 Thirty Minutes, Thirty Dollars

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.

To book this teleclass, contact: doug@dougsmithtraining.com

Teleclass: Ten Keys to Leadership Success

Upcoming teleclass:
Wednesday, October 10 at 11:00am ET
Only $30

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

Corner Office - collage by doug smith
Corner Office - collage by doug smith

Workshops of The Week

I enjoyed working with two great groups this week - one in Freehold, NJ and the other in Baltimore, MD.

Tosin, Sienna, D'Nia, Dan, and Natalie in Baltimore

Keep Your List of Goals Brief

You may not know what your limit on goals is, but the ones you can't remember won't get done.

Keep your list of goals brief.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action:

Read thru your list of goals. Prioritize your top three. Focus on those today.

What If There's a Flaw In Your Thinking?

It's humbling and it's happened to me, so I would not be surprised if it has happened to you. To be so sure, so certain, so already decided about something -- completely convinced -- only to discover that there was a flaw in the logic, there were facts not in evidence, there were perspectives unseen. There have been times when realizing that I was wrong about something rocked me more than the original problem. To find out that it couldn't be solved in the way that I was sure would work was shocking.

What I learned was, do not be that certain. Yes, there are times when you know that you are right and you ARE - but they feel just like the times when you know that you are right and you are not. It's like coming out of a dream that goes in a direction that did not even seem possible.

Our brains are human. Our minds are fallible. It's hard to evaluate the instrument at work with the instrument at work. It's so convincing in it's built-in bias. We need to step back, get a fuller perspective, talk to someone else, and breathe. Let go of the outcome just long enough to see what the possibilities still are.

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

-- doug smith

Could There Be More to the Truth?

My goal is to tell the truth. All of the time. That's more difficult than you might expect, given our daily temptations to tell little lies of convenience -- especially when we consider that NOT telling something a truth they are entitled to hear is a kind of lie of omission. No one is perfect, but with a little work and a clear intention, we certainly CAN tell the truth. It's a habit worth developing.

Once you get into that habit, of telling the truth all of the time, you may find yourself insisting on hearing only the truth from others. That's even more difficult. Some people lie so much that they don't even realize it. Some people lie so much that they come to believe their own lies. What do you do with that?

All we can do is to start by telling the truth. All the truth we know. We may later learn that we didn't even know all of the truth, or that someone else's view of a situation is different from ours (and just as true.) Still, let's start with telling the truth as we know it. Or, as don Miguel Ruiz says in "The Four Agreements," tell your truth.

Tell the truth. Tell me the truth. Just don't pretend you know all of it. There is still plenty of truth to discover, and what was once true might change.

How do you define truth?

-- doug smith

Keep Looking

Should we stop looking, once we've found what we're looking for?

Or, should we savor having that precious moment while also remembering to look onward. Keep looking. Keep building. Keep growing.

Find the dream you're looking for and then keep looking.

-- doug smith

Listen First

How quickly do you make up your mind about whether someone is right or wrong? Is it possible that you sometimes make up your mind too quickly? It happens frequently. That proposes an additional challenge of forcing someone to defend a position before they know for sure that it's THEIR best option.

I've done it. You've probably done it, too. I've decided to turn away a sales offer that clearly could have been a benefit to me. Why? I'd made up my mind not to buy. I've also turned away great invitations just because I'd already decided to keep a time free, instead of staying open to new opportunities. The new opportunities MIGHT have been fantastic, but once I stopped listening it became impossible to tell.

How about you?

The fix to this problem is simple and easy: listen. Before you make up your mind, listen with genuine, sincere curiosity. Maybe you know, and maybe you don't -- listen.

It becomes harder to listen when we become convinced that someone is wrong. Instead, give them time. Give them a listen.

-- doug smith

Improving Performance Starts with Feedback

Sometimes people get better on their own, and sometimes they do not. High performance leaders don't take the chance that people will get better on their own. The key starts with feedback.

When people know exactly what they did, it's possible to do it better the next time. Are your people meeting their metrics? Are they delighting customers? Are they inspiring you?

Share your observations. What did you see, hear, smell, feel? What was useful about what happened? How could it be even better.

We all benefit from feedback. Successful supervisors make sure it happens.

-- doug smith

Workshop: Supervising For Success

What do your team members think about your supervisors?

How are things on the leadership front?

So often highly effective technical workers are promoted to supervisor and then struggle. They don't know what to do. Why aren't their team members doing their jobs? Where's the motivation?

If any of these issues occur where you work, you might want to consider our two day workshop, "Supervising for Success." There's no shame in struggling as a supervisor, but there's no need for it, either. Take advantage of our forty plus years of leadership experience to develop supervisory skills in these key areas:

  • Leading challenging conversations - discover how to talk about what you need to talk about
  • Setting goals quickly and developing a robust plan to achieve them
  • Coaching and developing your team members
  • How to solve performance problems and turn that poor performer into a motivated star
  • How to set priorities when everything feels like a top priority
  • Create highly productive meetings that end on time and get stuff done
  • Solve team problems collaboratively
  • Build a team that aligns its efforts on the work that matters most
"Supervising for Success" can be customized to meet your organizations training and development needs. Just let us know what you're looking for -- you'll be surprised how fast and affordable it is.

Why not contact me today? 


-- doug smith

doug smith training, LLC is located in Bucks County, PA

The Best Goals...

The best goals spark inspiration, dedication, and perspiration.

Anything less is not for you.

-- doug smith

Sometimes, It IS The Relationship

Do relationships impact your problems? Maybe not always, but sometimes. Relationships can both help and complicate problem situations. How we attend to the relationship impacts the problem. Whether or not we attend to the problem affects the relationship.

Not every problem can be solved by helping a relationship, but those than CAN be, must be or they remain problems.

-- doug smith

Building Your Team: Happy and Productive

Which comes first, happy or productive?

Many people will say that happy comes first, and that happy team members are more productive. I don't dispute that because I've seen it happen. Some of the best team members I've ever worked with brought an inner joy to their work that became contagious. They were more productive, and soon other team members around them were also more productive.

I think that it is also true that productive team members are happier. It's possible to create more joy in the team when the people involved are highly trained, skillful, attentive, and focused on making customers delighted. The wonderful side effect to this great work is great joy.

High performance leaders do what they need to do to create this great joy. It comes from knowing your team members, from helping them when they need it, from making sure that they have the help and resources that they need, and most of all, from appreciating their results AND their efforts.

The best leaders love to see their team members happy and productive.

Why not create the kind of team environment that makes that happen?

-- doug smith

Your Team Is Changing

When was the last time your team changed?

If you answered "today" or "about a minute ago" you are thinking the way that I'm thinking: your team is constantly changing.

Every time you add someone to your team, it changes. Every time you say goodbye to someone from your team, it changes. Your team changes when you change a process, when you change a procedure, when you change a rule, when you change the schedule...on and on your team is a relentless mixture of change.

The good news is that team leaders can influence that change. You have the opportunity to change in ways that makes your team better, faster, smarter. Your change is open to better change.

Changing one person on a team could change the whole team. High performance leaders build constantly, change intentionally, grow patiently.

They change on purpose, and so does their team.

-- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Grow

High performance leaders grow. They grow their teams. They grow their organizations. They grow themselves.

Growth produces strength, resilience, and opportunity.

How are you growing today?

-- doug smith

Not Quite Perfect, But...

There are no perfect people and there are no perfect processes. Still, we must improve. Performance matters and we can "perfect" that performance even though we will not achieve perfection.

Perfection is somewhere in the practice.


-- doug smith

Keep Working On Those Drafts

Have you ever thought that you've got this leadership thing all worked out? I've never reached a point where I thought "that does it, it's all easy from now on..." It gets better, but not necessarily easier. As the goals get bigger, the plans take longer. As the tasks pile up, the discipline must grow or it all stumbles to a stop.

Just when you think you've got your team where you want them, a star performer leaves, or a struggling performer slips even further. The work never stops. Some of it is the science of leadership (mind your metrics, facilitate your meetings, improve your processes) and some of it is art (develop your people, conduct those on-the-spot tough conversations.)

The art of leadership seldom stops after one draft.

Don't stop. Keep moving. Keep learning. Keep growing.

-- doug smith

Clarify Your Shared Values

Companies sometimes post their espoused values. Do they really live by them? It depends on the company. It's worth asking questions, with curiosity, to see if they really do live by those values. Questions like:

  • what does integrity mean to you?
  • how do you create an environment of development and support?
  • how do you make sure that equal opportunity is an active part of your culture?
  • how do you balance competition and cooperation in your company?
  • can you give me an example of a time when your organization was tempted to do something that would have been good for profit but bad for people? what did you do?
Values sound great. Values sound uplifting and noble. It is important to make sure that they are real.

The problem with shared values is that they are so rarely shared.

Check to be sure.

-- doug smith

Clarify What You Think You Heard

When was the last time that you misunderstood someone? It might have been more recent than you think. We are all misunderstood sometimes. Without clarifying and confirming, we are misunderstood far too many times.

Remember, most of the time we misunderstand something we are not aware of our misunderstanding.

Clarify constantly.

-- doug smith


I'm not a good dancer. I used to think that I was, but then I figured out that it was my partner who was such a good dancer that she could also make me feel like a good dancer. It was wonderful. And, when I realized later, when she'd moved on to a new partner, that I was NOT such a good dancer, at first I wanted to stop dancing. It was so disappointing. It was all just an illusion.

And then, I realized. It didn't matter. There are degrees of dancing. Somewhere there are people who dance even better than my former partner. Somewhere there are people who can hardly dance at all. No matter where we start, in dancing or in leading, we can always level up. Start where we are and get better. And, realize that the dance is not about us at all anyway. The dance is, and always has been, about your partners.

Your creative muse likes to dance. It will open up new roads to you. It will light you up and allow blood to flow to the places that make you tingle. Listen to that muse and walk past the edge of whatever is stopping you. It doesn't matter if anyone is watching.

Your creative muse likes to dance. Dance.

-- doug smith

Expand Your Possibilities

Do you know how powerful your goals are?

The best goals spark curiosity, which inspires creativity, expanding possibilities.

-- doug smith

Ask With Curiosity

In every workshop I facilitate - every one - I share this important piece of wisdom from one of my mentors, Andrew Oxley:

"if you don't like the answer to a question, ask a better question."

That's profound. That's powerful. That's endlessly useful.

Often, people will struggle with that. Sometimes they ask, "How do you ask better questions? What if you can't think of one?"

Here's the answer.

Ask with curiosity and you'll think of better questions.

Stay curious, my friend.

-- doug smith

Highlights of This Week's Workshops

It's was great to work with two highly motivated groups this week, one in Washington D.C. and one in Frederick, MD.  Here are some photos from the workshops.

What If We Start With Appreciation?

Do you believe that you are appreciated enough? If so, you are probably lucky and have a healthy sense of self-esteem. Many people do NOT feel appreciated enough.

Leaders often do a great job of applying pressure on their teams to achieve more. The results do improve. Does it matter how people feel about it?

I think that it does matter. You can only push so long before the pushing leads to falling down. People can drift into being difficult because their lives have become difficult. The job is a big part of that. Too much pressure and release is unstoppable. That can make a person seem difficult.

No one wants to feel taken for granted. We all crave appreciation. Some people crave far more than they ever receive, leaving a gap where something must fill the emptiness. That something could make the person seem troubling and difficult.

It's hard to appreciate a difficult person, but until we do they are likely to stay difficult.

-- doug smith

Discover Your Problem's Puzzle

Problems! If the solution were obvious it would be no problem. We have to sit with it, figure it out, focus on our goal, and move forward. Maybe we move tentatively at first. Maybe we boldly act with decisiveness. Maybe we first solve the puzzle behind the problem.

The puzzle is the piece of the problem that is not obvious, yet is strongly effecting the outcome. Maybe it's on there periphery. It could be understated. It could be misunderstood. It is puzzling and must be teased out of its dilemma status into an openly more obvious presence. We can't do that if we ourselves are flying in all directions. We must sit still and breathe. We must center ourselves. We must scrutinize the puzzle.

Your problem is more than a puzzle but the puzzle will not be denied.

-- doug smith

Hear That Volume?

People are constantly trying to communicate. We can't take for granted that we are hearing them or that we are heard. It takes concerted listening with curiosity.

When we don't put in the effort to truly listen, the message keeps coming at us. When we misunderstand the message, the message keeps coming at us.

Every time we fail to listen the volume increases.

I'm working on listening better. How about you?

-- doug smith

It's Not One or the Other

Which is more important to you as a leader, results or relationships?

That's a trick question of course. You do not need to pick one or the other. In fact, high performance leaders focus on both and they start with relationships.

Take care of your relationships and your results will improve.

-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action:

Build the relationships on your team today. Spend at least part of your day having meaningful conversations with team members, one at a time.

Reward Results AND Relationships

Competition is useful. Usually, cooperation is better. Incentives have their value, internal motivation is massively more powerful. While high performance leaders DO focus on achieving their goals and delivering positive results, part of that is built around healthy relationships.

Take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to their stories, their heart songs, their hardships, their views. When they achieve their goals, reward them with signs of your appreciation. And, when they consistently act as responsible adults within your relationships to achieve those results, show your appreciation. It doesn't need to cost any money. Sometimes a "thank you" is enough.

We need healthy relationships to sustain trust. Without trust, a team member could be tempted to game the system in order to hit the numbers. That's not what you want. Sustain the relationships to keep the results both strong and ethical.

Be careful about rewards that only recognize results. Reward both healthy results AND healthy relationships.

-- doug smith

What If We're Not The Problem?

We need to solve problems without making each other the problem - doug smith

Centered problems solvers know that while people are involved in problems, it does no good to ascribe blame. Whose fault is it? It almost doesn't matter, and looking for whose fault it is will distract you from actually solving the problem.

We were all involved.

When we look at it that way, and determine how we can each help contribute to a solution, the problem because more manageable. Solve the problem and let the people be the people.

We need to solve problems without making each other the problem.

No need to add a problem to your problem.

-- doug smith

The Problem With Taking A Problem Personally

Problem solving quotes - doug smith

Taking a problem personally just makes it harder to solve.

You've got the problem, AND you've got the upset.

Shake free of the upset when you can (hint: always) and stop taking it personally. The solution is waiting for you to discover/invent/explore it -- do that instead of making stuff up in your head about how it's all about...you.

Taking a problem personally just makes it harder to solve.

-- doug smith

It's Not About The Blame

Centered problem solvers don't know everything, but they do know this: blaming someone for your problem just gives you another problem.

Skip the blame. Create a solution.

-- doug smith