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Showing posts from December, 2018

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

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 th

Learning Activity: Matching Gifts

Purpose: Open up new possibilities in solving problems and achieving your goals. Identify opportunities to apply your gifts and the gifts of your team to problems and opportunities. Materials: Blank Index cards. Preparation: Create two decks of cards. One set of cards contains personal gifts and strengths, such as courage, creativity, clarity, compassion, centeredness, influence, charisma, passion, etc. The other set of cards contains current problems or opportunities that could be addressed using your strengths. Process: Each person draws a card from each of the two decks and explores whether the gift and opportunity match for them, or whether they match someone else in the room. Describe how whoever has that gift might help meet that opportunity or solve that problem by effectively using that gift. Other participants award points: 1 point for a reasonable explanation, 2 points for a creative and effective explanation, 10 points for an explanation and commitment to app

Stay Curious

Curiosity is more powerful than rhetoric, dogma, or unquestioned truth. It's in curiosity that we learn. And, it's in learning that we grow. Stay curious. -- doug smith

Learning Activity: Paradox Castle

Leaders must face what can feel like an endless series of paradoxes. Struggling to hold onto truths that tend to clash yet remain both valid is excellent training for the need to make careful strategic, compassionate, courageous decisions. Purpose: Explore the impact on perception of paradox and its implications for achieving success. Materials: Large prints, posters, or slides of paints by M.C. Escher (and other painters with a flair for painting paradoxical situations.) Process Discuss the meaning of paradox. Ask: What are some examples of paradox in your world? In movies? In art? In leadership? Show two or more works of paradoxical art. Allow several minutes of silent reflection. Break into groups of four who must silently depict the motions of a day in the mental world of the painters presented, taking care to bring out a sense of paradox. Stress the silence. (Allow several minutes. If a group struggles, silently signal them to quietly provide musical / percussion b

Be Careful of Setting Rules

I think we all have a rebellious ten-year old inside of us who does not like rules. Whenever that inner child encounters rules our natural tendency is to find ways to invalidate or violate the rule. We do not like rules imposed on us by other people, even when the rules make sense. Even when the rules are in our own best interest - I can remember years ago when many people resisted wearing seat belts even though riding in a car is MUCH safer with the seatbelts on. It didn't make any sense to violate the rule, but a rule begs to be broken. Yet, we do need rules. If you as a leader are tempted to make up rules because your team or your organization is struggling with boundaries, you can set rules -- you just shouldn't do it all by yourself. Get help. Ask people what rules they need. Find out what will be enforceable and what will not, and even more importantly find out what rules are so useful and sensible and sensitive to the desires of others that they don't even need


Do you remember a time when it was hard to let go of something, long after you knew it was not you'd intended? There have been times that I've thought too much about something, long after thinking about it could do any good. I'm getting better at recognizing those moments. It takes work. It takes recognition. Process, decide, and let go. Note to self: If you keep re-deciding you'll never get anywhere. -- doug smith

Trust Integrity

We have choices. We always have choices. If you have a deep and decent sense of values developed with experience and education, you recognize what is right. What is right does no harm. What is right spreads compassion. What is right leaves no loss. It's not the easy thing. You know that, too. Do the right thing whether or not you ever see the benefit. Someone will. -- doug smith

Be Careful What You Invite

It's tempting as a leader to force people to do things. Influencing them, convincing them takes so much longer. When we're convinced that the change we need to implement is truly a need and not a want and that it will make a necessary difference, we can get impatient. Just do it now, we think. Get on board or get out of the way, we mutter under our breath. Not always, but maybe in those dark times with deadlines pressing and needs to be met. We DO need to achieve that goal, right? People are messy and need time. They need convincing. And the more we take shortcuts by changing the ways that they do things forcefully, without a choice, and even by surprise, the more we face resistance. And rightfully so. Without carefully vetting a change, how can we know that it truly IS the best new choice? Ask. Test. Overcome resistance. Talk about it. Forcing people feels effective but it's really not. Forcing change invites rebellion. And that eventually unravels the relationship

What Are You Following?

Leading requires following, and not just from your followers. What do you believe in? Where is your faith? What drives you? What is your mission? Great leaders know that their direction - the place they are leading others - is built from a combination of influences, some remembered and some forgotten. It's gravity inside. It's magnetic attraction and a pull that keeps pulling. We influence those influences. What we read, what we learn, what we talk about, the art we appreciate and the people we spend time with...we influence our influences. Why not do that with a sense of purpose and adventure? Every great leader is following something. Are you paying attention to what you're following? -- doug smith

Learn Leadership Now!

Fast, affordable leadership training Here are four ways to develop your leadership skills now: Leadership tool box - Click on any of the labels for any entry on this site to find more useful content, much of which will contain suggested actions for developing your skills and leadership calls to action to prompt you.  Teleclass Appointments - You do not need to wait for a teleclass or webinar to be offered to sign up for it. Using our teleclass appointment system you can schedule the teleclass you want, when you want it. Just click here . Supervisors Coaching Calls - Attend our group coaching opportunity for front line leaders to discuss your leadership goals, action plans, insights, and challenges. Designed as a way to extend and apply the learning from previous workshops and teleclasses, but this coaching call is open to anyone who is working on developing leadership skills -- and for a limited time it's free! Register to participate here . Supervising for Success -

Who You Are...

Who you are effects how you see everyone around you. While that feels obvious, it's often mysteriously invisible. -- doug smith

Supervisors Coaching Call

Training is a process, not an event. If you've attended one or more of our workshops or teleclasses, we'd like to help you extend the learning with our group coaching calls. For a limited time, it's a free benefit to our workshop and teleclass participants. Attendance is limited to ten people so be sure to register early. When: Fridays at 12:00pm ET To participate, please register by scheduling an appointment: Schedule Appointment Not a participant? You're welcome to join us anyway to get a taste of our training and coaching style. -- doug This Week's Coaching Call Agenda: Guidelines & Agreements Introductions Warm-up This Week's Coaching Questions Next steps for you Call time is approximately 30 minutes This Week's Coaching Call Questions What are you most proud of this week? What are you most grateful for this week? What leadership skills are you working to develop? What is your most ambitious goal? What is your bigge

Keep Developing!

Have you ever seen a leader so effective that they couldn't get better? Me, either. Unless we are constantly developing we are falling behind. Let's keep growing. The best leader you can be is still there ready to be developed. Keep going. -- doug smith

Supervisor's Playbook: Track the Work

Tackle that feeling of overwhelm using a practice, simple tool. Situation: Overloaded with tasks. Getting delegated to from multiple sources and you suspect someone may be overloading you. Bonus: Helps you prioritize based on who assigned the work Allows you to add and identify what you own because you assigned it (to yourself OR to others) How it works: Add a column for "Per" for the person who assigned you the task. For example: Priority Scale: A = Urgent, important, and due today B = Important but not urgent C = Not due soon, more tactical than strategic D = Delegate or delete these Additional Uses: A way to show the people who assign you work how much they assign you and also what else you are working on. Makes you assign a realistic priority value instead of calling everything an A (urgent AND important.) When deployed among your team you can see if the distribution of work is optimal or needs adjusting. -- doug smith

Here You Are

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live at a different time? Do you ever long for old times when things seamed simpler? Of course, none of us has any choice in the matter of time. The time is now. What we have is now. And there's good news. Now is the best time (to think any other way is to cause yourself unnecessary grief.) We each live in a time and place designed to bring out our best. Let's smile, roll up our sleeves, and get moving. -- doug smith Leadership Call to Action Just for fun, and a little easy motivation, draw a smiling face in today's place in your calendar or planner. If you don't use one you can draw in, insert an emoji. Smile. Today's for you!

The Benefits of Coaching

High performance leaders are also coaches. There is no avoiding the need to give your team members feedback. The most robust way to develop a culture of feedback in your team is to coach - not just a little - but constantly. Coach, coach, coach! Lead with inspiration of course, and also lead with coaching by sharing deep conversations with your people about performance. Appreciate the good work. Redirect the sloppy work. Fine tune the vast amount of work that fits somewhere in-between. It's good for your team, and it's good for you. There are so many benefits to coaching, including: Better performance More comfort at giving AND receiving feedback Stronger relationships More effective communication Faster response time on urgent team needs A closer, more cooperative team You can probably think of even more benefits to coaching. Any time we coach another we are also coaching ourselves -- and that is enough of a benefit to keep coaching no matter what. When you

Telling The Truth

What makes it so hard sometimes to tell the truth? Maybe because people will react, and then we have to be ready for that reaction. But if the reaction you want is trust, understanding, and belief, then keep on telling the truth. Before you give your honest answer, make sure it IS your honest answer. Someone might believe you. -- doug smith

Learning Activity: Spoons

Purpose: To provide a fast-paced review of a topic (such as Leadership or Project Management). Materials: One deck of cards for each small group (about one deck for up to six people) Plastic spoons (one for every person in each small group, minus one spoon) A deck of cards for each small group (about one deck of cards for each four or five people.)    One plastic spoon for each person in each group, minus one spoon. (For each group there is one less spoon than the number of people.) Place the spoons in the center. Deal six cards to each person The person to the left of the dealer begins by drawing a card from the center. They either keep that card or discard it to the person on the left, or discard another card from their deckto the person on their left. The object is to gather six cards in the same suite. When you have six cards all in the same suite, grab a spoon. Once a spoon has been grabbed, any one else can grab a spoon until there are no more spoons. This will l

Keep Improving

Maybe you've heard someone say this, "I never get the training that I need..." or "There isn't enough time to learn what I need to learn..." Hearing it is rough enough, but living it is too limiting. We're all challenged. We're all taxed. We're all over-whelmed. Still, the need to keep learning never goes away and the more we ignore it the more we become overwhelmed. You don't ever have to wait for someone else to improve for you to improve. It's up to you. Keep learning. -- doug smith Leadership Call to Action: Check your action plan for a goal that requires a skill that you're still learning. Do something to help increase your learning at that skill today.

Supervisors Coaching Call

Training is a process, not an event. If you've attended one or more of our workshops or teleclasses, we'd like to help you extend the learning with our group coaching calls. For a limited time, it's a free benefit to our workshop and teleclass participants. Attendance is limited to ten people so be sure to register early. When: Fridays at 12:00pm ET Sign up here: Schedule Appointment

Room to Grow

I suppose that if a problem is easy to solve that it isn't even a problem. Just solve it and be done with it. A problem like that is more like a decision than a problem. We all have bigger problems than that, though. We all struggle at times to solve what feels like an unsolvable problems. Some problems truly can't be solved, and must then be managed. How can we tell the difference? We need to ponder the possibilities. We need to change the problem into a goal and figure out how to bring that about. The difficulty is like a framework for building something we haven't thought of before. The problem stands there, a form waiting to redirect our notions of what is possible. Tough or not, solvable or not, a problem creates a space for traction. A problem you can't solve is give you room to grow. Grow. -- doug smith Leadership Call to Action Create a list of three problems you have not been able to solve. Next to each problem, write the one leadership ski

Stay Willing to Solve That Problem

Leaders don't usually ask for the problems they are confronted with, and yet there they are. Busy lives lead to a kind of numbing busyness that can detract focus from what is most important. For front line leaders, what is most important is solving problems and achieving goals. Avoiding problems keeps them growing. To solve a problem we must first be willing. That takes time. Time to stop, breathe, and analyze the problem. Time to gather the will and resources need to first convert that negative problem into a positive goal and then to get busy solving it. Solving a problem is mostly showing willingness to solve the problem. Are you willing? -- doug smith Call to Action: Write down three problems you've been avoiding Circle the one that troubles you the most Convert that problem into a goal: what do you want instead of that problem? Get started solving it For more help in a process for solving problems: Follow the links in the Leadership Toolbox on

The Best Leaders Laugh

Think about the best leader you've ever worked with. Now, think about what it sounded like and felt like when that leader laughed. I'm thinking that the best leader you can think of laughed often. Wouldn't you think that a great leader would be happy in their work? And wouldn't you think that happy leaders laugh a lot? That was true about the best leaders that I've worked with -- they all had hearty and ready laughs. They took work seriously, of course -- AND were completely capable of laughing at themselves when they caught themselves taking things too seriously. Laugh. And when you make a mistake, learn from it fast so that you can laugh at that, too. It'll be a good story someday, and a good laugh, too. If you can't laugh at your own mistakes you're missing the best laughs. -- Doug Smith