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Your Job Now

What was your first job?

My first actual job (not counting being the official scorer and announcer at the local Babe Ruth League) was a short term deal at Burger Chef. It was the early days of fast food. I was in charge of the fries and the grill making burgers. It was a tough job, and I didn't do my best work then.

Did you struggle at all during your first job?

I'm going to guess that you are not in your first job now. Those first job struggles are over.

You're probably not in your last job now, either. A lot can change, and jobs change all the time. I might not even be in my last job and I truly love the job I do.

My point is that we need to push on. We need to keep working hard. We need to keep learning. No matter what your job is or what order it comes in your list of jobs, your job right now is to work hard, to lead effectively, and to help people do better than they are doing right now.

Get those three things right and you can truly call yourself a high performance …

What's Behind The Curtain?

Does your team see and feel the real you?

Are you the same person at work as you are when you are on your own? Or are there masks that you wear, roles that you play, that you leave backstage when the day is done?

Leaders should be authentic. They also have personal lives. Your life at work may not match your life at home, and that's OK. What's NOT OK is if your life at work does not match your values. High performance, centered leaders lead with the heart as well as the mind and they lead with integrity.

In "Alice In Wonderland" there are lots of surprises, lots of tricks, lots of turns, lots of levels of deception. Have you ever known a leader like that? How they achieve their goals and how they think thru their processes can feel like a total mystery.

I'd rather work for a transparent leader who has no secret agenda. I'd rather work for an authentic leader who shows you what you get and tells the truth first time and every time. How about you?

My guess is …

Open the Door

When was the last time you caught someone in a lie? How did you react?

It was probably not that long ago, maybe even today. People lie to each other everyday. Some of those lies we let pass, but some startle us so much in their boldness, in their malice, in their deviousness that we are emotionally moved to do something about it. What should we do?

We could react with anger. That is sure to stir up more anger.

We could react with sadness. Surely, we have every reason to be sad, but what will that accomplish?

A better reaction? Call to question the statement in question. Here are some things that work for me:

"I'm not sure that I understood what you just said, could you say it another way?" or
"I'm not sure I agree with that. Can you convince me?" or
"Wow." (the word I sometimes say when I can't think of what to say -- OR I'm thinking of a word that would not be socially acceptable or polite. And yes, even when you catch a lie in action yo…

High Performance Leaders Talk About It

Sometimes the best place to start is to talk about it.

-- doug smith


Leadership Questions: Your Perspective

Until you can communicate your perspective to your team, how will they ever give their best effort to achieving your goals?

We all see things differently. Let your team know how YOU see things.

-- doug smith


Truth Provides Sustainable Esteem

A lie is a try to buy self-esteem and the price is too high.

-- doug smith

Keep Improving

There are no perfect people, products, or processes. Life is more or less a constant improvement project.

-- doug smith


Quality Matters

A typo can be the difference between distinction and extinction. Quality matters.

-- doug smith


It's the Long Haul

High performance leaders know that performance is a long term goal not a short-term gain. Think long range, long term, and strong impact.

-- doug smith


Building Your Team: Start One on One

Find out what your team means to each team member and then build from there.

-- doug smith


Communicate Your Expectations

This is a picture of my good friend Tubs. He has a look of anticipation and expectation in his eyes. He wants to be sure that whoever he is communicating with understands those expectations. If his tongue is showing, he expects a treat. If there's a toy in his mouth, he expects to play. And if he walks toward the door, he expects to go out.

Life is simple and good when your expectations are clear.

As a leader, you probably have some expectations, too. You expect a certain level of performance from each of your team members. You expect a certain professional conduct. You expect respect.

Does everyone on your team understand, clearly, your expectations? Not last year's expectations, and maybe even not last month's expectations, but rather your current expectations? And, not only what you expect but to what level of urgency do you expect prompt action?

Let them know. Tell them again. They do need to be reminded. There's no room for a mystery here, is there?

Communicate y…

Keep The Kindness

Do you know someone who will say anything? Some people have no filters, as one of my friends used to say. No sooner do they think it and then they say it. Sometimes, it doesn't even seem like they gave it much thought.

We all have important things to say. As leaders, what we say has direct results on how our teams perform. We can talk with an edge if the relationship is strong enough to support a high level of assertiveness, and we can say nearly anything IF (and it's a BIG if) we include respect and kindness.

When we can talk about it with respect and kindness we can talk about anything.

Keep the kindness, whatever you say.

-- doug smith


When you set your goals...

You get to choose. Even when your boss gives you goals, you still get the chance to set additional goals that sing to your soul, that make you smile, that energize you and get you going. The right goals set you up for success.

When you set your goals, set goals that set you up for success.

What's your biggest, most exciting goal for today?

-- doug smith




Tackle Your Limiting Beliefs

What stands in your way when it comes to achieving your goals?

Life will give us lots of obstacles. We have to learn how to deal with them. But, we also give ourselves some unnecessary barriers. We build walls out of our limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that we believe so strongly that they prevent us from doing what would otherwise be possible. They are different from person to person, but they often sound like this: "I'm not good enough...they would never appreciate me...I failed at this before so why try again...that's the kind of person who always gives me trouble..." and on and on.

Our limiting beliefs are so deeply ingrained, many of them formed when we were very young children, that we often are not even aware that they are there -- or that they are limiting our possibilities.

Our job is to increase our possibilities and choices, not limit them. Not to take unnecessary risks or subject ourselves to danger, but to overcome the little hurdl…

The Road Is Distorted

Have you ever been on your way somewhere and suddenly realized that you were on the wrong road? Before GPS, that would happen to me frequently. I'd get lost. Things looked different than I expected.

On our road to our goals, things can get distorted. Our expectations, formed with optimism and trust, can get twisted or tumble over a cliff. The road to any goal requires a toll. Are you prepared to pay that toll.

One early toll is seeing thru the distortions. To achieve our goal we need to see clearly. That could mean seeing things thru someone else's viewpoint. Find out the facts, sort out the feelings, and focus on as much objective truth that is available.

The road ahead is distorted. It's up to us to stay centered, focused, and on the right route to our goal.

Keep you map handy.

-- doug smith


What Are You Making a Case For?

What are you selling yourself?

Before we can convince anyone else of anything, we first convince ourselves. What have you convinced yourself about your goals?

Are your goals backed by plans? Are your goals exciting, enticing, and tasty? Are you so proud of your goals that you can't wait to tell other people?

Or are you building a case for the status quo? I'd let that go. The status quo is far too heavy to carry and leads to nowhere. There is no real status quo, only slow decay.

Instead, I like to make a case for action. A case for moving forward toward achieving new goals.

How about you?

-- doug smith


Stay Creative

Don't let anyone or anything stop you from being creative. It's power you have to use to make things better and achieve your goals. Sure, it sometimes might aggravate people. It might cause some people to bristle at having to look at things a new way. It's important. Stay with it.

Creativity will get you out of more trouble than it ever gets you into.

-- doug smith


Building Your Team: Recruit Constantly

Team building. It's a never ending process. It starts with recruiting. Who you bring into your team makes the chemistry of your team. Who you bring into your team sets the players in place to do the work that needs to be done.

Take your time with recruiting. Start by getting to know the best talent you can. You never know who might be interested in joining your team, but first get to know them. Learn from talent everywhere. Explore places you might not usually explore to find the talent that can take your team to the next level.

They might not join your team now. They might not even be interested. But, someday they might. The only way that someday arrives is if you start the dialogue today.

Who do you know who you wish was on your team right now? What if you gave them a call?

-- doug smith


Provoke Something Positive

Leaders do not settle. Good enough is not enough. Almost will never do. As my dad used to say, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right," and leadership must be done in a fully attentive, fully focused, high performance way. High performance leaders insist on ever increasing performance. To get there, they encourage positive action after positive action. Step by ever reaching step to a higher level, to a better degree, to a higher quality.

It's what high performance leaders do.

High performance leaders provoke positive actions.

What positive action will you provoke today?


-- doug smith

Leadership Call to Action The next conversation you have with anyone on your team today, take a moment to provoke a positive action. Encourage your team member to do more, to add quality, to add value to something otherwise routine. Keep provoking until that positive action is a reality -- and then keep provoking until that positive reality is a habit.

You can do it. You're the boss…

Strong Goals Provide You Strength

It might seem obvious, but it's worth remembering: strong goals provide you with strength. They provide you with strength of purpose, strength of direction, and strength of endurance.  A goal that you truly care about, that's written with clarity provides help when others try to hinder. Lots will try to get in the way. The best goals resist this resistance and persist to achievement.

A solid, clear goal can withstand any judging.

-- doug smith


Your Team Needs a Strong Leader

You're not just part of the team, are you?

You are, as the team leader, at the center. You set the tone. You set the speed. You set the mood.

Those are powerful abilities, if you use them in high performance ways. You'll need power, and you'll need strength, and you can't grab that from anyplace else other than yourself. Your team is counting on you. Whether or not they tell you, they depend on you to be their strong leader. The strength of patience. The strength of persistence. The strength of high expectations.

Pull your team together. Talk with them individually AND as part of the whole team. Let them know how to succeed and they'll do their best to do so.

As much as you might want it to, your team will not build itself. It needs a strong leader.

That's you.

You can do it. You're the boss.

-- doug smith


Video: Marshall Goldsmith and Feed Forward

From Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, Executive Coach, comes this is a great way to share fast, low risk coaching with a number of people. The three steps are simple and easy:

Write down an area you'd like to improve that would have a big impact for youAsk for 2 positive suggestions for the future that would help with that areaRepeat getting positive suggestions from others in the group There are two simple roles for the process:


No talking about the pastNo judging or critiquing ideas
Here's Dr. Goldsmith describing the process in one of his highly useful videos:

I found this article and video from one of my favorite sources of leadership advice, GetLighthouse.com, here.


What's Your Superpower?

Would you like another super power?

There's a skill that, once you start using effectively, begins to feel like a superpower. You never have to settle for a poor answer again. I learned this from my mentor Andrew Oxley, who taught me "if you don't like the answer to a question, ask a better question."

Try it.

It takes practice. At first you might run out of questions. But, if you stick with it and work at it you can always, always, always come up with better questions. And if you get stuck, silence can even be your better question. Just don't give in. Just don't give up. Ask better questions.

Remember what Andrew Oxley said:
If you don't like the answer to a question, ask a better question. 
-- doug smith



Set Five Top Goals

How many top priorities do you have?

The trouble with too many top priorities is getting them done. Too many top priorities means you don't really have priorities -- just a really long list of goals.

Have all the goals you want. Goals are great. I've know people who carry a list of 100 goals. They check them off one by one, and some have truly accomplished nearly half. That takes time, and feels more like a bucket list than a goals list.

Top goals are what you work on first. Top goals are what you prioritize above all else. Top goals are where your results make a meaningful distance.

High performance leaders show the courage to focus on five top goals.

How many do you focus on?

-- doug smith

Goals and Decision Making

We may so many decisions. Big, little, routine -- lots of decisions. When it's harder than usual to decide (because the issue is complicated or the choices are vast) it helps to rely on our goals. Which decision supports our goals? Which decision gets us closer to achieving our goals?

The right goals help make the right decisions.

-- doug smith


Video: How to Get Your Boss to Like You

I gain much from watching these brief videos from Business Made Simple featuring Don Miller. If you enjoy them to you can subscribe. This one features some quick advice on how to get your boss to like you.


It's You

Have you ever worked for a perfect leader? Me, either. And neither am I a perfect leader. We can't be perfect, yet we can work to be on the work toward perfection. It's a road we'll never finish.

I've been blessed to work with many great leaders, none of them perfect. But, some people have not been so lucky. Some people seem to have worked for a long streak of frustrating leaders or bullies. Maybe some of those people are headed for (or already on) your team. The news is good, though. You can greatly influence their future experience, even if you were previously less than what they needed in a boss.

It's a new day. It's a new time. You can be a new, improved, effective, attentive, high performance leader.

Start today.

Be the leader you always wished you had.
Someone else is wishing for that, too.

-- doug smith


Goals Are Negotiable

Have you ever been stuck with goals that no longer work for you?

Did someone else stick you with those goals, or did you do it to yourself?

High performance leaders set lots of goals, but they don't get emotional about realizing that they can't possibly achieve all of them. Life brings complications, strategies change, better goals come along.

Working on a project, working for a boss, working on change -- if the goal is big enough there is likely to be disagreement. That's OK. Talk about it. Negotiate. Find a goal you can agree on instead of grudgingly plunging forward on a loser. And then, stay calm. There's no need to take a disagreement personally.

We can disagree on goals without becoming disagreeable.

-- doug smith

Choose Growth

Problems are aggravating, inconvenient, and frustrating. High performance leaders -- successful supervisors -- build muscle around solving problems that comes from practice, application, and outright solving. One problem after another, solutions come from facing the problems head-on.

A problem could lead to frustration, OR it could lead to learning and growth.

Go with learning and growth.

-- doug smith



Prioritize by Dropping those Dead Goals

Are you carrying any useless goals? Maybe they didn't start out useless, but still you carry them long after the energy has drained. If you've got goals that you no longer care about, that have no real customer, and don't align with your mission, you might want to let them go.

Focus on the right goals. The ones that make you both smile and sweat. The goals that once you have achieved them take you to a different place, put you in a better mood, or build something contributing to your success. Let go of the wrong goals to make room for the right ones.

The right goals help make the right decisions.

-- doug smith

The Royal Moves

Supervisors are asked to make more moves each day than a complicated game of chess. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you end up in what feels like a stalemate. But you keep on pushing, you keep on growing, and you keep on growing.

Making the right moves, what I'd call the Royal Moves, requires training, experience, and an open mind. You need the open mind when the moves don't go exactly as you planned.

Are you making the royal moves?

Are your people growing, thriving, excelling, and delighting their customers?

Are you making the royal moves?

Is your own career developing in ways that challenge you and still bring a smile to your face? The royal moves keep you growing. It's deciding to plan more carefully so that the unexpected is not quite so unexpected. It's building the relationships that help you resolve inevitable disagreements. It's taking the time to coach your team members every day instead of letting administrative details pull you away. Th…

Work On Yourself

Work on yourself and then working on others gets much easier. They're more receptive, and you're more prepared.

-- doug smith



Bring the Light

High performance leaders spend much of their time coaching their people. We coach so that our team members can learn to generate the energy and effort they need to do their best work. We coach so that our team members will light up. But, sometimes, the light within our team members wanes. Sometimes, they need a boost. Sometimes they need us to light the way for them.

Bring the light. Light the way. Keep them on track. Then, watch them shine.

-- doug smith



Better Than Average

You've seen the classic bell curve. The vast majority of the data points fall in the middle. That's just about average. Most performance, most people, most results, tend to be just about average.

That's not for you. That's not for me. High performance leaders work harder, communicate better, coach longer, and reach farther. Better than average.

Let's do that again today. Whatever you do, beat the average. Do better than average. Be excellent.

-- doug smith




Video: One Thing Your Team Needs You To Do

Share What Motivates You

If we don't share what motivates us we shall certainly share what de-motivates us.

Energize yourself to energize your team.

-- doug smith


Where Is Your Team Headed?

Have you ever seen steps to nowhere?

Since I travel a lot, I occasionally see a building with stairs that appear to lead nowhere, at least no where safe. Access is only semi-blocked, so the danger exists even if the destination is sketchy.

Does your team have a destination? Have you updated your team's mission this year? Things are changing so quickly that what may have seemed important as recently as a year ago could be out of date now (or soon.) Is your team up to date? Do you have a vision for a vital future?

Avoid those stairs to nowhere. Plan a vital, energized, noble future for your team. Get them involved. Show them how a high performance leader leads.

-- doug smith


Attention to Detail

High performance leaders pay attention to detail. They know what matters most and they manage it precisely. They eliminate distractions and focus on the main thing.

Do you manage what matters the most to your organization?

Is your organizational house "tidy" and in order? If you want to empower people, make sure that you have the best processes in place to allow the flexibility they need. When there is a right way to do something, train your people that way.

Attention to detail. It makes a difference.

-- doug smith



Video: Gain Respect by de-escalating the drama

From Don Miller, author of StoryBrand, who shares brief, useful videos he calls Business Made Simple Daily. I find the insights so useful that I recommend subscribing. Most are only a couple of minutes long and can get your day off to great, ambitious, energetic start.

This video is about gaining respect. One fast way is to deal more effectively with drama. Too often a situation is overly dramatized and while that can get attention, it can also lose respect.



The fast way to gain respect? De-escalate drama and tension. Remain calm, pull away slightly, and imagine the least dramatic solution to the problem.


Video: Regression to the Mean

Fascinating video on the impact of feedback on performance and how our expectations are often deceived. Is positive feedback more effective, or is negative feedback a higher impact to performance?




Refection Questions What do you think?

If regression to the mean (falling back or rising up to the average) is to be expected, which type of feedback do you think is more effective - negative or positive?  Why is that?








You Know About Assumptions

Assumptions are short cuts. Assumptions are lazy paths to uncertain places. Assumptions get us lost more often than they get us found.

You know about assumptions: don't make them.

Like many simple concepts, that's easier said than done and yet completely necessary. I'm so good at making assumptions and making things up that I have to constantly remind myself not to do it. The best habit to prevent assumptions is to ask questions. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Get the real facts. Discover the honest feelings. Clarify, confirm, test those assumptions!

Assuming you know means that you don't. Communicate better by asking.

-- doug smith



Should You Talk About Your Problem?

How often do you share your problems with other people? There was a time in my life when I kept everything to myself, considering it too personal and figuring that no-one had time to help me with my problems. But, you know what? Sometimes we share problems even when we don't share. People can tell. Problems effect performance. Problems effect service, Problems rob us of happiness and sap us of our energy. We need to solve our problems, not hide them.

You might not solve that problem by talking about it, but what if you did?

Centered problem solvers create dialogue. They listen and share in order to reach mutual understanding. The first step to mutual agreement on the solution to a problem is to understand the problem AND each other.

Got a problem? Talk about it.

-- doug smith

Should You Do a Team Building Event?

Team building is great and can be a true morale booster -- if your team is ready for it. If the team morale is already low, though, a team building event might be the last thing you need. How do you know?

Before scheduling a team building event, check to see how each team member would feel about it. That means spending time with each of them, one on one, to discover how things are going. How are the dynamics? Does everyone enjoy working on the team? What are the challenges and the issues?

You could even introduce some low risk team building activities into your regular meetings. You don't need a zip line or trust falls in the wilderness to get closer as a team. Sometimes, just a warm-up question before a meeting is enough to start the bonding. Questions like "if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?" and "if money were no object, what would you do?" and "if you could make one fundamental, game-changing change to our business,…

Video: Four Words - Tom Peters

In this brief video, Tom Peters explains two key ideas: 18 seconds (the average time before a doctor interrupts a patient) and four words (a powerful way to keep you listening.)



Video: Summary of "Crucial Conversations"

I do recommend reading the book. It will help you handle conversations that feel like confrontations and to do it in ways that honor everyone in the conversation. In the meantime, watching this quick summary video from The Productivity Game will give you immediately useful tips on navigating those crucial conversations.












No Giving In

Are you ever tempted to give up?

I don't mean in the big scheme of things -- of course you should not give up on that -- life is a beautiful gift and meant to be meaningful and joyful. But, on the smaller, less grand things. I am often tempted to give up or give in because:

a) I want to be cooperative and in-service to others, and
b) I do not like conflict

The trouble with giving in is that you don't get what you want. And while it's easy to see that is not your best outcome, it's also not great for those who must work with you.

Think about it. If you yield to every autocratic order barked your way and every bureaucratic nonsensical procedure how much would that slow you down? It might slow you down to, oh say, zero.

We must sometimes confront the thing that stands in our way. Stands in our way of justice, stands in the way of our freedom, stands in the way of our dignity. (You could build a wall of all the bricks of injustice that stand in our way.)

Leaders don't…

Dealing With Mostly No

Have you ever noticed that a lot of people default to no?

If you ask them for something -- no. If you offer something for sale -- no. If you promise a truly great experience in exchange for a small investment -- no.

We are hard wired to say no.

The trouble with that is that we miss yes.

One of my favorite movies is "Yes Man." I know that it is a silly movie. I know that it's broad and insane and not at all realistic. But if you haven't seen it, give it a chance. Say yes. It's all about a character played by Jim Carrey who is in the habit of constantly saying no. Then one day he goes to a Yes Convention (or something like that.)  And of course, since it's a seminar, his life is changed. He begins to say yes. At first very reluctantly, but once he gets in the flow of it he says yes to everything -- too much in fact, putting himself in danger. Of course he does, it's a movie.

I like the yes man in yes man better than the no dude.

I do not say yes all of the…