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Showing posts from November, 2019

No Bullies, Please

Are you an assertive leader?  High performance leaders must be assertive. They need to express their expectations clearly and frequently. They need the courage to stand up to aggressive behavior without getting aggressive themselves. That's where the science of leadership can meet the art of leadership: knowing how much to dial up your assertiveness and knowing how much to keep steady, to keep centered. Holding your ground and holding your own does not mean holding anyone else emotionally hostage. People will disagree. Strangely enough, some people will fail to meet your expectations. We can deal with that without getting started on raging, yelling, or berating. All of those aggressive behaviors produce side effects and none of them are desirable. Instead, breathe. Think things through. Work on the relationship and the results will follow. Focus only on the results and the relationship could unwind. Bullies get paid back when they least expect it. Why not treat people wit

Get A Grip

It's tough being a front line leader. Everyday someone challenges you on some point that you thought was obvious or long-ago decided. Every hour some customer demands the impossible. Every week some team member leaves, or contemplates leaving, sending the recruiting process into overdrive. It's tough. As leaders, we must be up to the challenge. We must toughen up. We must build muscle around the soft underbelly of centered leadership - not as far as the iron fist inside the velvet glove - but close. Our goals matter. Our team matters. Our support of the organizational mission must be unwavering and courageous. The rewards of effective leadership extend much farther than the financial, though. A leadership job well done results in more powerful people. It results in teams that achieve its goals. It results in people going much longer and farther than they'd ever imagined. Leading at its best helps people serve with joy and inspiration. I recommend it highly. G

Turn That Problem Around

A problem is just an unfulfilled goal. -- doug smith I have a challenge for you. It's not that hard, but it does take practice. Here it is: instead of thinking of a problem as a problem, turn it into a goal. Instead of thinking about what is causing you unhappy results, focus on the results that you DO want and identify all of the ways to achieve those results. Turn that problem around. Make it a goal. A problem is just an unfulfilled goal. Take care of the goal, and say goodbye to the problem. -- doug smith

The Problem With Some Problems

The problem with some problems is your adversary's failure to see it as a problem. -- doug smith Some problems are more like conflicts. The symptoms are clear, but the "problem" for you could be an "asset' for someone else. As long as someone is gaining from the situation, it's tough to convince them that there is a problem. When that happens, your adversary is not going to willingly change things. You'll need to show them how the status quo is not only unsatisfactory for you, but also contains a downside for them -- maybe not now, but eventually (and decisively.) And if you can't find that, you may need to create it - or live with the current situation. The problem with some problems is your adversary's failure to see it as a problem. Clear the fog for them. Show the pain. -- doug smith

How do you handle resistance?

The more resistance you get the more impact you could have. -- doug smith Leaders create change. Change causes resistance. Lately, it seems that we are given lots of change without any influence over what that change will look like. It's easier to simply force the change than to build consensus. That's fast, but I doubt that it's sustainable. As high performance leaders, let's do better than that. Let's handle resistance by listening. There might be merit in the resistance. There is, at least, human nature and feelings involved. Every time leaders bull doze a change thru, something is broken: trust. How do you handle resistance? If your changes are creating vocal resistance, it might mean that your change is truly important. It could also mean that it's off-base. But, forcing it thru doesn't increase its value. The more resistance you get the more impact you could have -- if you take the time to explore what that resistance is all about. -- do

Find the Discipline

It takes discipline to discover what is otherwise not available. -- doug smith How do you find the answer to building your best team? Is there a magical formula? Teams take work and the work is never done. For a leader to find the time to talk to each team member one-on-one frequently it takes the discipline to set a schedule and THEN to follow it -- even when your boss tends to pull you away and even when you get distracted by other urgencies. Your team members deserve your time and they need your time. Even when they do not ask for your time, they need it to connect, to calibrate, to collaborate. Give your team members one-on-one time and the payoff will be great (even if it takes a while to notice, hang in there.) The answers to your problems, the solutions to your challenges, the magic secret sauce that differentiates your team from dozens of others that are otherwise similar, hides in the discipline of doing the work. It takes discipline to discover what is otherwis


Sometimes it takes courage to get you out of the trouble that courage got you into. -- doug smith Have you ever been so bold that you regretted it? High performance leaders DO need courage. We need to be able to make the tough decisions. We need to be able to stand our ground when we are challenged by irrational or unethical demands. But, sometimes our courage gets the best of us. That courage that allowed you to insult the senior official? That's trouble, and it probably wasn't courage at all but something closer to arrogance. That courage that had you stand your ground against a tough customer? It might have cost you their business. With courage must come respect. With courage must come compassion. And, lacking either of those two critical ingredients that courage we feel might cause more trouble than we intended. When that happens only courage will get you out: the courage to apologize, the courage to correct, the courage to repair. Sometimes it takes courag

Set Your Own Limits

People who put limits on your goals are not helping you. -- doug smith I'm not saying that anything is possible. Whether or not that's true is not the point. Have you ever been seriously slowed down by someone who lacked any confidence in your own abilities? Has anyone ever rained on your parade? Silly, isn't it. It's your parade. It's your goal. It's your effort. Whether or not you can do anything is hardly the point. The point is that your goal is YOUR GOAL. And you CAN achieve it. -- doug smith

Sometimes You've Got to Say No

Yes can be a trap. We want to please, so we say yes. We want to be great team players, so we say yes. We want to be exemplary family members, so we say yes. Have you ever worn yourself out with your own yes yes yes? Yes. Me, too. Sometimes we've got to say no. No to the goal that someone else wants us to complete but that interferes with our own goals. No to the task that should be done by someone else. No to the questionable ethical (or clearly unethical) demand. No. Unless we have the courage to say no, our yes always belongs to someone else. Let's own our own yes by owning our own no. -- doug smith

Do The Work

Trust your ambition but do the work. -- doug smith Dreams are great, and yet it takes more. Ambition is powerful, and yet it takes more. It takes a detailed and powerful plan. It takes working each step of that plan. Even when people resist and even when team members act like anything but team members. Do the work. Build the relationship. Spend time and grow. Trust your ambition, but do the work. -- doug smith

Go Toward Happiness

Improve and move in the direction of happiness. -- doug smith We have the choice of so many directions. Decisions confront us everyday. Reactions tempt us into emotions we can barely control. Name an emotion, I've chosen it, and probably so have you. Why not choose a better direction? Why not step toward what works? Why not move in the direction of happiness. It may take work. It will certainly take practice. But we can do it. You can do it. Improve and move in the direction of happiness. Isn't that where you want to be? -- doug smith


Appreciation for a smile leads to more smiles. Smile! -- doug smith

Working to Judge Less, Maybe Not At All

Wisdom does not judge. -- doug smith We're all good at judging. I judge all the time - not as much as I used to, though. My goal is to stop judging altogether because it just doesn't give me what I want. People do not respond to it. People do not change their behavior. Judgement just makes us bitter because it doesn't work. I'm not saying that there is no place for judging. Justice is (sadly) as important as peace. You cannot have one without the other if judgment is needed and lacking. We just don't gain anything from being our own personal judges. The bitterness remains, and so does the cause of the reaction. I'm working instead on maintaining unconditional positive regard. People will make mistakes, sometimes even on purpose. Some people will try to take away things of value. They just don't know, or they just don't care. Will my judgment change them? Most certainly, no. Will my unconditional positive regard change them? Probably not. But

Find the Root Cause

Remember, the root cause of a problem might be in more than one garden. -- doug smith Have you ever solved a problem multiple times? The same problem? It looked solved, it felt solved, and yet just when you least expected it the problem returns bigger and badder than ever. Until we get to the root cause of a problem, the symptoms might be slightly eased up, but the problem remains. When we come up with solutions, it's worth it to ask, many times, "are we sure we've found the root cause of the problem?" How sure are you? How is it that you are sure? Are there any additional hidden causes? Keep digging. -- doug smith

Be A Force of Nature

Focus on your goals with relentless persistence. When you do you become a force of nature. -- doug smith

Keep Learning Again and Again

A goal worth working on will produce high levels of learning. If that learning doesn't help you with this goal, it's guaranteed to help you on another. Keep learning. Learn constantly. -- doug smith

Possibilities Equals Power

Are you searching for more possibilities? Are you generating more ideas? There could be more possible ways to solve your problem than you will ever think of, so keep thinking, keep exploring. Possibilities equals power. -- doug smith

Challenge Your Assumption

If your assumption isn't helpful change your assumption. -- doug smith We all make assumptions, even when we know it doesn't help. Where do these assumptions come from? They come from old data, from old experiences, from filters so clogged we fail to see what is true. But the good news is that since assumptions originate from our own thinking, we can control that. We can change our thinking. We can change our assumptions. Let's choose assumptions that lead to success. The people on our team WILL support us. Our leadership skills ARE growing. Our customers DO have reason to like our service. If your assumption isn't working, if it just isn't helpful, change your assumption. -- doug smith

The Path to Happiness

The goal isn't goals; the goal is happiness. And, the strongest path to lasting happiness is thru service. -- doug smith

Go Big

Are your goals big enough, wild enough, ambitious enough? If a goal doesn't make you nervous or giddy it's not big enough. Go big. -- doug smith

Sing Your Song

The song of success contains many variations. -- doug smith I'm not the world's greatest singer but wow do I love to sing. And, sure enough, I cannot sing everything. Almost no one can, of course. We're all limited by our vocal range and even though we can expand that vocal range, almost no one can sing ALL THE NOTES. And, we don't all like all the songs. Success is like that. What one person calls success, another might think of as torture. I know some jobs that people absolutely love that would irritate me to try to do. My own definition of success has evolved over the years. As I have discovered my limitations in some areas of aspiration (oh no, I CAN"T hit that note, or OH NO I'm NOT going to be a professional athlete!) I have also discovered new horizons -- all very colorful, exciting, and new. Success can be this simple: think of a goal, write it down, achieve it. Of course it's work. Naturally, there's much more to it than that. An

Keep Improving

Imperfection is a human condition but not a curse. The blessing is in the constant process of growth. Grow. -- doug smith

Are You Overthinking?

I've been told that I sometimes overthink things. How about you? The trouble with overthinking is, when are you done? Sometimes we have to think about what we're thinking to stop thinking so much. Think about that. -- doug smith

Make the Move

A fading dream makes room for a new scene. Make the move. -- doug smith

Keep Your Goals In Front

Goals that you keep in front of you keep you moving forward. -- doug smith

Quality Knows No Age

Old does not always mean outdated. New does not always mean best. Quality knows no age. -- doug smith

Start With a Goal

Don't let a lack of a goal stop you from getting what you want -- set the goal! -- doug smith

Ask Your Team

Energize your problem solving team today, tomorrow, and everyday. Not sure how? Ask them how. They know. -- doug smith

You Can Do It

You can strengthen your self-esteem without anyone's help. -- doug smith Are you waiting for praise? Are you hoping for a great performance evaluation? Have you given any part of your control over your own self-esteem to anyone else? I enjoy hearing good things. I like praise. Positive feedback is awesome. But do we need to wait for it? I don't think so. It's great when it comes, but the surest way to keep your self-esteem healthy is to know what you stand for and work toward that position. The best way to be happy about what you do is to do work that matters, to do work that makes things better for other people, to find joy in serving. It's almost amazing, but what builds us up the most is taking care of other people. Great leaders are in charge. Greater leaders are in charge and serving, at the same time. What a great way to build your own self esteem. You can do it. It's up to you. -- doug smith

Darn Lies

Lies lead to lies and there lies the problem. Clarity is the solution. We tolerate, we generate, too many darn lies. What are we afraid of with truth? Why do we try to deceive one another? Lies, lies, lies. A lie opens the door to air the truth, if we can spot the lie. We can always spot the lie. It's not like they are so hard to find. Besides being everywhere, they are usually painfully obvious. Let's lean  on the truth instead. The cold, hard, honest truth. If the truth isn't kind, there is more truth to find. Keep looking. Keep telling the truth. -- doug smith

Actions Matter

Be careful of letting good intentions create bad problems. Actions matter. -- doug smith

What's Your Goal?

Sometimes the most powerful question you can ask is "what is my goal on this?" -- doug smith Results can get scattered. Intentions can get confused. When I find myself wondering what's going on, what am I doing, or what others are doing, I pause long enough to ask, "what is my goal on this?" When we know what our goal is we can follow the plan that we have set in order to achieve that goal. We can press on. We can stay relentless. Even when things are so chaotic that they appear to be out of control, we can focus on a goal and take the steps necessary to get back on track. The right goal corrects a lot of wrongs. The right goal gets the job done. What's your goal today? -- doug smith

Dignified Goal Achievement

How you achieve a goal is as important as achieving it. -- doug smith I don't believe in achieving a goal at any cost. While goals are important, our character matters more. How we treat people in the process of working on our goals matters. It's not a winner-take-all contest because when that IS the case there are eventually no winners. Instead, it is a win and share the winning choice that provides the most traction and the best results. If you want positive results, use positive standards. People will eventually learn to treat you the way that you treat them -- noble or not. Stay noble. Stay ethical. Stay truthful. Temptation has no place in achieving goals. Abuse, cheating, taking advantage of others -- no of this belongs in the portfolio of a high performance leader. Lead effectively. Achieve your goals. And use processes that treat people with dignity and respect. Think of it as dignified goal achievement. Your character remains strong and your reputation r

You've Changed

Do you ever get nostalgic? Do you ever wish that you could do something the way you once did, or be that person again? Guess what? You can't. I can't. (and while I miss that 1966 Impala Supersport I once had, I don't think I miss the pants I was wearing back then...) We can never be who we used to be. We have to keep growing. We have to keep learning. And, when we set new goals and head for new horizons, who we used to be matters a whole lot let than who we are becoming. Who are you becoming? -- doug smith

Find the Fun In Your Goal

Energize your team by keeping your goal both challenging and fun. -- doug smith

Design Your Plan

The only unachievable goal is the one without a plan. -- doug smith

Reframe Your Problem As a Goal

A problem turned into a goal is already headed for a solution. -- doug smith