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Showing posts from 2020

Stay Persistent

Have you ever gotten frustrated while looking for the solution to a problem? It's not just common, we should probably expect it. If it was easy, it wouldn't be a problem, would it? Maybe we just need to keep thinking. Maybe we just need to quietly identify possibilities.

What if the best answer to your problem hasn't been thought of yet?
The answer, even if it's just "manage the outcomes and make peace with the problem" is likely there. Keep digging.

-- doug smith

Big Effort

How important are your goals? Do you know how I can tell? I can tell how important a goal is by how disciplined and hard I work on them. Big effort = big importance. Little effort = just nice to have.

Your effort measures the true value of your goal.
I'm going to work today to put more effort into those goals that matter most. How about you?

-- doug smith

Where Do We Begin?

Things change fast. Things don't ask, they just change. Where do we go from here?

Wherever you are, there is room to grow. We may stay idle for awhile. We may sleep, rest, nurture. When we are ready, let's grow.

Where to begin?

Start with what's possible and grow.

Ready when you are...

-- doug smith

Letting Go of Perfect

My former acting coach, Brian McCulley once said that "done is better than perfect." I don't think he meant to minimize quality, because that is also important. But sometimes urgency is more important than perfection, considering that we'll never achieve perfect.

There are no perfect people. There are no perfect products. There are no perfect processes. We may travel John Wesley's road to perfection without ever getting there. That is completely fine.

I've learned to seek wisdom rather than perfection since discovering the endless amount of personal flaws has destroyed any illusion of perfect. Still, I travel that road, whether it's driving or as a passenger. It's a good road, even when it never ends.

I've also learned not to let it grieve me.  We are all here to improve. Let's keep improving.

When we look into the mirror, let's not expect perfection. Let's not let disappointment cloud our days. Expecting perfection is not a flatterin…

Build Your Influence

You never know how influential you might be until you try to expand your influence. You never know when the smallest problem solving step might lead to an evolution of ever expanding and more effective steps. You might think you know, you might not. Expand it. Grow it. Get to know people and work on that problem.

When a problem is beyond your influence, build your influence.

-- doug smith

Tips on Managing Virtual Teams

It may be a few less than 21 rules, because he does lose count, but the ones that he shares are pure gold and highly recommended for managing remote teams. It's longer than most videos we watch (just over 21 minutes) but if you manage virtual teams you will likely benefit from this advice.

Many are familiar, but I learned a few, such as:

The most important order of communication priority is: video, audio, chat, emailKeep a chat window open all the timeSet up a meeting rhythm -- a regular meeting time when everyone on the team MUST attend virtually (using a program like Zoom or GoToMeeting)Take advantage of overlapping hot zones of time -- convenient times to meet no matter what time zone a team member is inTest potential employees with short term work before hiring them for long term work (what TimeDoctor does is hire two party time team members expecting to choose the best of the two to become full time)Meet in person - a least annually schedule an all team in person meeting, and…

What's Your Potential?

Do you know what your team's potential is? How about the potential of each of your team members? Potential is valuable. It tells you that you can keep going during tough times. It tells you that your capacity is wider than you imagined. Potential is fuel for success. You've got to tap into it, of course, and DO something -- but it is vastly available energy. How much energy?
If you imagine that everyone on your team has limitless potential you could be right.
I'm going with that notion -- how about you?
-- doug smith

Where Coaching Starts

What's your focus on coaching and where does it start?

People do respond too coaching. When asked what kind of leader someone wants, very often they will say "someone who is a good coach." We like coaching. We benefit from gentle guidance and persistent insistence on improvement.

But where does it start? With goals? With targets? Does it start with charts and plans?

Coaching doesn't start with performance; it starts with a relationship of understanding.
As a coach, work on understanding first. As someone being coached, work on understanding first. Coaching starts with understanding.

-- doug smith

No Limits

Kindness may come at a cost, but that cost is covered by an endless, limitless currency.

There is no limit to love.

-- doug smith

Quick Quote: Create Yourself

The person you were in the past remains in the past. You are now in this moment the person you create.

-- doug smith

How Do Leaders Lead?

One goal at a time. Ask an expert on goals how to get the most done and they will likely answer "one goal at a time." You can't do everything at once, but you can certainly do something right now.

One goal at a time.

Make that improvement. Develop that team member. Fix that process. Restore a resilient workforce.

One goal at a time.

How do leaders lead? One goal at a time.

-- doug smith

Quick Quotes: Perspective

The right perspective can put your problem down to size.

maybe it's big,
maybe it's not
until you really see it
you don't know what you've got

-- doug smith

Dealing with Rejection

Who likes rejection?

Me, either. And yet there is something even worse than rejection. Something that gets us all worked up and nervous, something that creates the kind of environment where rejection becomes certain: fear of rejection.

Fear of rejection is far worse than rejection.

Make the request. Listen for the answer. Move ahead.

-- doug smith

Leadership Action Plan Leaders must deal with rejection on a daily basis. Today, the very next time someone rejects one of your requests, pause in silence for three full seconds.  Stay curious, and find out what they might need in order to give you what you requested.

Quick Quote: Enthusiasm

Your enthusiasm for a goal is enough. Get started.

-- doug smith

Quick Quotes: Resistance

Sometimes resistance to a goal is evidence of its need.

Listen to resistance, analyze its source, create a faster path, and surge forward with a solution.

-- doug smith

Moving Forward

When people criticize you it probably is connected to their performance.

Maybe you didn't do what they expected. Maybe they think they can do it better. Maybe you just never agreed on what the performance would be.

I've learned to listen, process, frame, and move forward. When I learn how to fix the past, I'll get busy doing that, but in the meantime, what comes next matters so much more.

-- doug smith


Somewhere someone just like you is working hard to do what you do, only better than you.

What will you do about that?

-- doug smith

Quick Quotes: Perspective

The big picture gets you going. Attention to details gets you there.

-- doug smith

Is Your Team THAT Good?

What if everyone you hired had to complete a boot camp just to prepare them for the high level performance of your team? What if you had the kind of team that people longed to work for, that dreamed of working for, that worked their tails off just to get a chance to work for?

Imagine the goals that team would accomplish?

You could have that team. You just need a plan, the discipline, and the fortitude.

What's your plan?

-- doug smith

Qualities of a Leader

Do you have the qualities of a leader?

I'm sure you know that leadership is not just a title. Leadership is what we bring to the organizations we lead in order to develop our people and achieve our goals. That's easier said than done and it doesn't necessarily come naturally.

When I think about the qualities of a high performance leader I notice similarities with what I would consider to be a high quality, high character person: curious, brilliant, adventurous, determined, attentive, focused, ambitious, strong, kind, worthy, ethical, resilient, spiritual, healthy...the list is long.

I've also come to believe that while many qualities are important, there are five that are absolutely essential. You could lead without these qualities, but the job is much harder that way and the outcomes are more volatile.

The five qualities I aspire to are: courage, clarity, creativity, compassion, and centeredness.

I define centeredness as the skillful use of the other four qualities i…

Raise Your Expectations

Have you peaked yet?

Truthfully, you've likely peaked many times. Reaching the peak need not be the end, but rather the start of even better performance.

When I first set a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day it seems hard. That's a lot of walking. How would I ever get anything done? And for a while I hovered between 6,000 and 8,000 steps. Better, but not my goal.

Then, I started (with lots of effort) reaching 10,000 steps on a daily basis. It got to be routine. I figured out how to keep moving enough to achieve my goal. And you do know what you've earned once you've achieved a goal, right? A bigger goal!

I've leveled up my goal to 12,000 steps a day, and on most days I do get it. I'm still humble about it though, because some people have told me how they routinely exceed 20,000 and even 30,000 steps. That's a lot of walking!

I raised my expectations, and my goal improved. It may not last forever, but if it lasts long enough to reach excellence in your field, …

Level Up Your Baseline

Your best performance should be your baseline, not your ceiling.

Keep improving.

-- doug smith

Compassionate Feedback

What do you do when you know that your feedback for someone on your team will be tough to hear?

Before I learned better, I would sometimes just keep the feedback to myself. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, after all. And they made it this far without that feedback so...

But that's not the most compassionate approach. Withholding something that could make someone's life and performance better is not being sensitive, it's being ineffective. Tell them what's going on. Tell them what you are thinking. Offer your suggestions.

It can still be kind. It can even be graceful. It might even contain a bit of humor. But it's best as feedback when it is clear and to the point.

Prepare for that difficult feedback. You already know that there are right ways and wrong ways to deliver feedback. Plan, and practice. Get it right.

Before you give feedback imagine how it would feel to hear that directed at you -- and then adjust accordingly.
Be the boss you always wante…

Easy on the Judgement

Do you like to be judged? Me, either.

It doesn't mean that people don't have to follow rules, because they do. It doesn't mean that we don't care about quality, and fairness, and justice, because we do. But it does mean that maybe judging someone in a moment of emotion is not the best strategy. It does mean that judgement seldom, if ever, changes any one.

Today, just for today, can we please go easy on the judgement? Turn the volume down. Dial the intensity lower. Stay kind.

Harsh judgment delays peace.
Curiosity invites peace in.

-- doug smith

Leaders Develop Leaders

Peter Drucker (and others) said that it's the job of a leader to develop more leaders, not followers. High performance leaders surround themselves with people who show initiative, who get things done, who are ready to lead. They develop, sustain, support, and promote leaders without any fear or jealousy.

Surrounding yourself with leaders who are growing and creating success will only make you more successful. It's what leaders do.

Leaders develop leaders first to sustain long range high performance results.
Better results, with their people taking care of themselves and each other.

Isn't that what you want?

-- doug smith

Build Yourself

How far can your team go? How much work can your team do? How successful can your team become?

I have two answers to all of those questions. The first answer is "amazingly so." The second answer is harder, "only as far as you allow."

Your team's biggest limiting factor is you. That's hard to hear, perhaps, but also liberating. Grow yourself and you will grow your team. Limit yourself and...well, you get the idea.

In order to build your team you might also need to build yourself.
Build your ability to listen. Build your ability to take charge. Build your ability to solve problems. Build your ability to lead.

Build yourself. Your team will follow.

-- doug smith

Two Word Mission Statements

What is your two-word mission statement?

I'm sure you've seen a lot of mission statements. I have, too. Most of them are so long that I couldn't remember them if my job depended on it. And yet, in many ways, your job does depend on it.

I've learned that if you keep it brief, it's easier to remember which makes it easier to do and much more likely to shine as the strategic guiding light that you're looking for.

Try this. First, identify what you do. Second, identify how you do it. Put those two things together. If you don't like what develops, try again. Find yourself a two-word mission statement and see how empowering it makes you feel. If you like it, keep it. If you don't, try again.

What is your two-word mission statement?

Mine is "developing leadership."

It's an abbreviated version of the full mission statement of "developing leadership with clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion." I like both. I can remember both. But…

Always Add Compassion

Tough leaders with an edge get stuff done, and when they add compassion they add significance.

Always add compassion.

-- doug smith

What Is Your Team Teaching You?

What have you learned from your team today?

It's not too late, and your team has a lot to teach you. Sure, your job as a leader includes training your team members and making sure that they develop in ways that help them while also achieving your team goals. What many leaders forget, though, is that your team is also constantly teaching you.

They are teaching you what they need to succeed. They are teaching you how their interpersonal dynamics are developing. They are teaching you how effective your leadership style is. It may not always seem like it, but they have things to tell you that may not be said directly with words.

How is their performance? Are they happy? Do they feel connected to something larger than themselves? Are they proud to be part of the team? Do they feel valued and appreciated?

Watch their body language. Listen to their tone. Get clarity around what their words say. Stay attentive to what they have to teach.

Every team teaches its leader whether or not they&…

Manage Your Boss

How much time do you spend managing your own boss?

Front line leaders can spend so much time leading their own people that it's easy to forget how important it is to develop your relationship with your own boss. You do need your boss's support for any plans, discipline, or development you have for your people. You do need your boss's cooperation when your team members go over your head about an issue and go directly to your boss. And, you'd like your boss's help in developing your career.

But your boss is busy. Your boss has personal tasks to take care of. Your boss has a challenging boss to keep happy. It's easy for you and your boss to drift apart as you both work hard to accomplish your goals. But still you've got to find a way.

The toughest task for any boss is managing their own boss.
Although it may be tough, your future could depend on it. Without your boss's help, everything is harder. With it, almost anything is possible.

Here are some quick w…

High Performance Leaders Manage Their Egos

Does your ego ever get in the way?

Leaders do need healthy egos. We must demonstrate belief, confidence, and assurance. All of that requires healthy self-esteem that allows us to stand up to resistance and push thru difficulty. It's possible, though, for that self-esteem to turn into self-aggrandizement if we're not careful.

How can we manage our egos? The best way I know is by developing the kinds of strong, open, honest relationships with people that allow others to provide feedback. Have a friend who is willing to tell you when your ego is bloated or your assumptions are presumptuous. Develop the resilience and resolve to realize that, gasp! you are not always right. Especially when we begin operating fast and relentlessly the safety valve of honest people keeps us out of trouble.

Also, everyone we deal with has an ego. Our team members, our customers, our bosses. Egos are everywhere and whether they are confident or hesitant we deal with them in the middle of working on o…

Tradition and Change

Are you keeping up with change? I find myself sobbing just a little every time my mobile phone wants to install an update. How do I know it'll be better? Can't I just wait a little while? What if I like things the way that they are?

High performance leaders are in the business of change. We rock the boat for a living. As Tom Peters once said "if it ain't broke, break it." That quote is more than twenty years old and we've been rocking the boat constantly since then.

What about the people who fall off of the boat? What about the details that are tried and true and tradition? Is there a place for tradition in today's rapidly changing world?

Yes, there is. Tradition is more than the way things used-to-be. Tradition is more than old habits. Tradition is a topic worthy of a book, but for now here are a few things tradition means.

Tradition is honoring the past and the people who built that past. That past got us to here, so they must have done something right…