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Showing posts from 2020

High Performance Leaders Train Their Team

  Every leader is also a trainer. You either train well or lose ground. High performance leaders train their team members. Coach the skills, develop the bond, build your team. It will make you a more effective leader. -- doug smith

Starting Over...

How many times have you started over? Not a minor change, I mean completely started over? New job, new relationship, new car, new year? Starting over is tough, but necessary. It's aggravating, but essential. To get where we'd rather be we have to change where we are. Changing feels like leaving an old friend behind and that makes us drag our feet. Yet here we are, in constant unrelenting need to pick up our feet, to move on. It's good. Change gives us chance -- the chance to improve, to learn, to grow. How many times have we started over? Every day we're starting over. Let's start over in joy. Let's start over with learning, with growth, with new levels of understanding, understanding that we can't possibly know it all and that is fine. We just need to keep starting over.   -- doug smith

Of Course It's Not Easy...

Do you ever get discouraged trying to lead your team forward? I know, they give you challenges that annoy you. They forget what you've already taught them. They miss time after time after time. And yet, they also bring a smile to your face. They surprise you with an insight that goes far beyond anything you've ever taught. They connect with customers in ways that reflect how YOU feel. They also bring you joy. Up and down. Down and up. Leadership is one challenge after another, randomly peppered with joy. If leading was easy they wouldn't have to pay people for it. But if there weren't rewards far beyond the money, no one would do it. Leading is tough. Leadership is the best. -- doug smith

Set Your Own Goals

Who sets your goals? Yes, there are goals we must achieve because we're in a job and because a boss sets them for us -- but those are just an entry ticket into the big game. The bigger game, the big picture, includes the goals we set for ourselves. Some people will understand that, and some will not. Be careful about letting anyone else judge your goals. They have their purpose, you have yours. Your goals are your business. -- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Set the Example

How successful would your team be if everyone on it worked as hard as you do? That's a question with more than one implication. Are you working hard enough to set a great example? Or, are you setting the bar so low that results suffer? The leader sets the example. The leader, as John Maxwell as said, "models the way." As leaders, let's model ways we'd like our team members to follow. Let's work hard. Let's work ethically. Let's work together. -- doug smith  

Questions about Advice

Do you like to give advice? I don't know how many times people have asked me for advice and in return I just let them hear what I had to say about what I thought they wanted to know. That has two big problems:  Maybe I haven't really understood their issue, and Maybe they aren't really ready for advice until they've thought it through By asking questions, I can learn more about their situation to find out if I even have advice worth sharing on that situation. Sometimes, they have all they need to solve the problem by themselves. Also, by asking questions and letting them think through the situation in greater detail, they can tell that I'm not just going to pull out a stock answer -- and the answer will come from our dialogue together, not some ready-supply of world wisdom. I'm smart, but I can't solve everyone's problem. How about this -- do you like to get advice? Asking for advice (without paying for it) can be an imposition. It can also be rude. It c

Imagine The Best Leader Ever

Have you ever wished for a better boss? Have you ever wanted someone as a leader who made your job better just because of the kind of leader they were? What would that be like? What would that kind of boss say? How would that kind of leader act? What would people say about that kind of supervisor? You could be that kind of boss. You could be the kind of boss people always wanted to have. Be the kind of leader you'd like to have as a leader. It's probably what your team members want from you. -- doug smith

Character First

Which should come first to be a high performance leader, strength, or character? High performance leaders do need to be strong. They need to be able to stand against opposition, correct wrong doing, and push on even when loss seems certain. But even more important than strength is character. Being truthful, trustworthy, and fair. Making a difficult decision even when personal gain could tempt that decision to go in another direction. Treating people with compassion. Leaders can easily cross ethical lines but a person of character sees those lines, honors those lines, and no matter how creative, manages to stay within those ethical lines. Strength without character breeds corruption. Stay strong, stay true, and may your character never be questioned. -- doug smith

Hands On!

When we first get promoted to supervisor we tend to make mistakes. I remember one mistake that I made was being too "hands-off" as a leader.  I didn't want to come off as a boss. I didn't want to take command because I thought that people's feelings would be hurt. I tended to let them be.  It didn't work very well, and I quickly got over it. People DO need attention. Your team members NEED to know what matters to you. They NEED to know your expectations. And, they expect YOU to challenge them a bit. They won't ever ask for that, but they do need you to edge them forward. Keep your hands on. Conduct regular one-on-ones with your team members. Challenge any assumptions your team is making. Raise the bar and keep on raising it. Your job as a leader is to help your team members level up, not level off.  A hands-off leader is not really leading at all.  Stay in the game. -- doug smith

Help Before You Need Help

Why should anyone help you with your goals? You can probably think of at least three people right now who are not yet helping you, but if they did, would make achieving your goal much easier. You might even be able to think of some people who seem to be standing in your way of achieving your goals. Why would they do that? How do people decide whether or not to help? People have their own sense of reason, but one thing that influences them is whether or not they have gotten help from you. When we build relationships of trust and serving it becomes much easier for someone to offer help. It even becomes easier for them to see the need to offer help without being asked. But if there is no history of helping, if in fact there is a memory of an unpleasant lack of help, it's natural that they would resist offering help of their own. It's all in the history of the relationship. People can help us achieve our goals or they can hinder us -- it could depend on how well we serve those peop

Be Dependable

It's hard to find a permanent job. Could it be that they don't exist anymore? While that is tough news it does bring opportunity for certain types of leaders. High performance leaders who create dependable results, who perform according to their goals, AND who develop their teams into high performance produces tend to prevail. Create that leadership dependability: dependable on your word, dependable on your performance, dependable on your fairness to others, dependable in your strong and steady use of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion.  If you're not dependable, you are expendable. Be dependable. -- doug smith

Where Are You Headed?

Everyday that we don't head where we want we're headed someplace else. The choice is ours, everyday. -- doug smith  

The Growing Zone

Have you ever had a leader who kept trying to push you out of your comfort zone? Kept trying to get you to do more than you'd ever done before and try things that are, frankly, scary? I sure have. And truth be told, didn't like it much at the time. A great boss is supportive, which we like, AND also challenging, which we might not be so happy about. The growth does happen, though, outside of our areas of ease. To stretch, we need to move those muscles.  The hope of a high performance leader is that we'll move those muscles so much that they grow stronger. The goal is to grow so much that our former team looks like the glimmer of promise that our future team becomes: faster, stronger, smarter, better. The growing zone takes us far, far beyond our comfort level. What if we pushed ourselves so far out of our comfort zone that we never came back?  What are you doing today to stretch yourself or your team? -- doug smith

Virtual Training: Supervising for Success

Fast, affordable leadership training ! Supervising for Success Whether you've just been promoted to supervisor or need a refresher on how to take the aggravation out of leading so that you can achieve your goals and enjoy your job more, this program will help. Discover what people are looking for in a leader, and what you can do to get what you're looking for from them. Discover how to: Build your leadership strength Set goals that motivate action Manage different personalities Delegate with confidence Motivate your team Supervise multiple generations Coach to improve performance Manage virtual teams Get more done and enjoy your job more The entire program is presented in one day. There are two sessions with a two-hour break between sessions. This is a zoom meeting but you will not be on camera. Schedule: 10:00 am ET to 12:00pm  Part One 2:00 pm ET to 4:00 pm, Part Two What to Expect: We start on time We get to the point There is no sales pitch You will NOT be on camera The sl

The Power of Focus

What controls your focus? There are so many choices. We can focus on trivial activities and simply pass the time. We can focus on noble causes but miss taking action to move those causes forward. We can focus on our goals and direct ourselves accordingly. It's up to us. It's up to you. No one else can decide where you'll focus but you. Find what matters most to you, and focus on that. -- doug smith  

Can You Have Too Many Goals?

There's a lot of overwhelm going around. People are doing more than ever before in circumstances not ever experienced. Should we keep adding more and more goals to the mix? How much is enough? How many are too many? That's up to you. I've heard people describe keeping a list of one-hundred goals. It's their bucket list. I've seen enough episodes of "The Twilight Zone" to never keep a bucket list for fear that once I've completed them all it would be check-out time.  But mainly, I'd be overwhelmed by all of them. A hundred? A thousand? Let's take a shorter list please and narrow it down to goals we actually expect to achieve. If you have too many goals to remember them all you have too many goals. (and now for some advice to myself, but you're welcome to listen in) Narrow your list. Prioritize your list. Get busy. Get stuff done. -- doug smith

Start With Quality

Once I was rehearsing with a band and as we were tuning one of the musicians said, in jest, "close enough for jazz." We could spend more time getting it more precise, we could find an electronic tuner to get it exactly right, or we could settle for a quick "good enough." It was a joke because good enough is not good enough -- for a jam session, a rehearsal, or a performance. Quality matters. The audience can sense your level of quality even when they are not trained to detect it. And, if you don't start out "in tune" there's no telling where you'll go. It doesn't automatically get better. In fact it tends to get progressively more out of tune. It starts a cavalcade of crap. Letting quality slide starts an avalanche of chaos. High performance leaders insist on quality. Not perfection, but a quality so high that it appears to be perfect to most people. It takes longer. It's usually harder. Give it the time. Give it the effort. Quality mat

Let's Choose Honesty

Stay healthy, stay happy, stay honest. At least one is all up to you. We all prefer good health. With good health comes many blessings. Every day I am humbly grateful for my good health.  Happiness? That can be a moving target sometimes. Just when you think you've got a formula figured out, the rules change. But, we can influence our own happiness and yes, maybe even control it. Even when our circumstances are less than ideal, our attitude can determine our level of happiness. And that brings me to the third thing on this list: honesty. That one is completely up to you. We each determine how honest we will be. To quibble a bit, it may not be a matter of "how honest" anyone is: you and I are either honest, or not. There isn't really a middle ground. You can't be a "little bit honest." But we're not perfect. We have to work at it all -- even being honest because every day there is some new temptation to twist the truth, hide the facts, or stay silent w

Stay Ahead of Change

Do you like it when someone or something forces you to change? Me, either. We can sometimes (often) avoid that, though. Initiate change. Stir up improvement.  Change before something requires you to change. Get ahead of the current and ride the wave. -- doug smith Action Plan: Ponder your business a bit. What hasn't changed for awhile? What is due for some disruption? What's your next move?

Give Your Goals Visibility

Where do you keep your goals? Do you place them in a visible place you'll have to see every day -- maybe even all day? When your goals are visible you are much more likely to work on them. When you work on your goals you are much more likely to achieve them. Keep your goals where you can see them so you can see them thru. -- doug smith

Calibrate Your Goals

Do you like ambitious goals?  We can stretch ourselves and our abilities with ambitious goals. It's a great way to develop. Our goals should push us and prod us and poke us forward beyond our existing limits. But not so far that they break us. Not so much that we can't attain success. Goals are dynamic and we can calibrate them appropriately. Pick the right sized goal for you. You can always make it bigger once it's achieved. -- doug smith

Work On Noble Goals

Why do people pursue goals that cause pain? When one person's ambition causes another person's anguish that is not a noble goal. It is not sheepishness or lack of courage that cautions us to take care of other people and their needs -- it is basic human decency. High performance leaders do not need to create harm. We make important decisions. We can balance our goals with the consequences and chose those that create only value. That does not rule out competition. Sometimes we DO need to compete. When we need to compete (hey, I like a good contest as much as anyone) we do it fairly, within the rules, with no intention of harming anyone. I can block your shot without breaking your arm. You can tackle me without causing a concussion. It is possible to assertively work for a win without creates debilitating loss. Seek good goals. Work on noble goals.  A goal is no good if it results in harm. -- doug smith  

Do You Own Your Goals?

You don't have to let anyone talk you out of a goal. The goal is yours, the work is yours, the reward is yours. Own it. Experience it. Work it. -- doug smith  

Are You Committed to Your Goals?

Goals are important but require action. No matter how much you want a goal, until you start working on it the goals just sits there.  Everyone has goals, but some people haven't committed to them. Some people haven't worked on their goals. What are you doing today to work on at least one great goal? It's not too late. It's never too late. Let's get started! -- doug smith

A Great Source of Power for You

Would you like more power? Is gathering influence something that you value? You can gain that in many ways. Certainly, one way is to get promoted to a higher level job title. That does bring increased power. But, not enough, does it? You still want more. We all want more. We want as much agency and autonomy and independence as we can get.  Here's something you have absolute power over. You control this completely, and when you control it effectively it dramatically increases your power: Your attitude. How you look at the world. How you feel about your self. How you apply positive principles to persistent problems.  Your attitude is more powerful than your job title. You attitude is more powerful than any problem. Your attitude is a great source of power for you -- when you keep it compassionate, clear, courageous, and creative. Tap into THAT power -- it is inexhaustible. -- doug smith

Be More, Become More

What are you learning today? If you want to do more, you must be more. Become more. Keep developing yourself. -- doug smith  

Honest Goal Assessment

Have you ever kept a goal alive for far too long after it's become obvious that you don't really care about it? You've got so MANY great goals, it's OK to drop a dud. Dropping a goal you'll never achieve is better than pretending that you still believe. -- doug smith


High performance leaders turn detailed plans into powerful actions. -- doug smith

Double Check

Be careful of what bridges you burn, you may have forgotten something important. Stop. Think. Breathe. Ask. That fire will burn fast enough if you need it. -- doug smith  

High Performance Leaders Stay Positive

Stay positive, not because it's easy but because it opens many more possibilities. -- doug smith

Even High Performance Leaders Need Patience

Do you ever lose your patience? High performance leaders sometimes focus so much on results that we get impatient about it. That's not all bad. Leaders need a sense of urgency. Just as long as we don't take it out on our team members. Press, don't distress. Push, don't crush. Every day provides opportunities to practice patience. -- doug smith

What Do You Know?

I remember making up an answer. If I'm honest, I've done it more than once. How about you? And, sometimes the answer was right. But of course sometimes the answer was wrong. Instead of looking like I didn't know the answer, it looked like I made it up. I don't do that anymore. I don't know everything, and I admit it. I'd like to know everything. I'm working on it (LOL) but not even close. How about you? Sometimes, in order to discover how much a team member knows, I'll hold back on information that I DO know, to allow them to explore and discover it. That could be considered pretending to NOT know the answer, but honestly, many times by staying silent that gives the team member time to think it thru, explore the idea, and discover a fabulous answer. Often, that answer is much better than the one I had in mind. Pretending to know the answer is less useful than pretending to NOT know the answer.  Stay curious. It works. -- doug smith

Should A Leader Be Positive or Negative?

Have you ever worked with a negative leader? Someone who leads by arguing, yelling, insulting, and pushing people around is a negative leader. Also, a leader who says mostly negative things like "what's wrong with you?" or "how many times do I have to tell you?" or "just do what I say because you can't figure it out otherwise" is negative. Oddly, sometimes a negative leader will get the immediate reaction desired. People might jump into place. Employees might try harder. But that's a temporary result. Negative leaders drive people away. The trouble with skepticism is its power to increase certainty without increasing accuracy and then allowing a negative notion to create a negative outcome. It can be more work to stay positive. It takes practice. It takes the ability to pause when someone on your team says something unbelievably incorrect. But do make that effort. Should a leader be positive or negative? Given the choice of which kind of leader

Call Your Team Members

If you want to communicate better you may need to communicate more often. Maybe even every day. Reach out to each team member, no matter where they are, and try these three things today: Appreciate Challenge Encourage It doesn't take an hour. It doesn't require a video. Just reach out. You'll like the effect that it has. You'll feel like doing it again. Go ahead.  -- doug smith

Where to Start

The first person to lead is yourself. -- doug smith

Talk With Your Team

How often do you talk with your team members, one-on-one? Not counting the group meetings, are you scheduling and keeping regular conversations with each and every team member? They need that level of attention. They require that level of attention. They have a much better chance of meeting your expectations when you give them that level of attention. It's an effort. It takes discipline. But, what could be more important than clear and regular communication with your team members? I would say, just about nothing would be more important. High performance leaders talk with each team member about what comes next. High performance leaders talk with each team member about performance. High performance leaders talk with each team member regularly, openly, honestly, and deeply. It's your best leadership tool. Talk with your team members. -- doug smith

Redirect the Benefit Before You Solve the Problem

Everybody wants something. Some people seem to want everything, or at least everything that interferes with what we want. That's a problem. And when what causes us a problem turns out to be an advantage, a benefit, a payoff...for someone else the problem is compounded.  If your problem is someone else's benefit don't expect them to help you solve it. Find another way to provide the benefit first, and then maybe they'll listen. -- doug smith

Three Keys

The key to solving problems is understanding. The key to understanding is communication. The key to communication is love. Start with love. -- doug smith

Evolve Faster

Have you noticed that some of your biggest problems from many years ago no longer bother you? You've likely solved them, outgrown them, or left them behind. That's not true for every problem of course, some physical problems stay a lifetime, and some systemic problems last for generations. Some problems truly are out of our control. But what can we do about the problems that we do have influence over, we just haven't yet solved? Working a useful problem solving process is one way. Continuing to learn is another way. Evolving and developing ourselves prepares us in whatever strategy we use. High performance leaders and performers keep growing.  Evolve faster and you could make your most persistent problem obsolete.ff Then you'll be ready for something even bigger and better. -- doug smith

What a Leader Wants

Do your team members tell you when they have a problem? Not a personal problem (good heavens, that's not for you!) but rather a performance problem. Something is blocking their performance, standing in the way, inhibiting their ability to deliver first class work. They should let you know. You should listen.  There is no shame in sharing team problems -- they focus us on the be best opportunities for progress. We won't solve every problem that way, but the ones that we do solve not only fix the problem but also build the relationship. As a leader, isn't that what you want? -- doug smith

Performance Is More Than One-Tap Away

Somethings are so easy. One click, one call, one spoken command. But, as always, not everything is easy. When we begin to assume that everything should be easy we lose track of the reality that some things DO require discipline. You can't one-click your physical work-out. You can't one-tap your organizational realignment. You can't one-command your new, improved, work-ethic inspired workforce. Things of value and projects of worth still require engagement, discipline, and the relentless willingness to try, fail, and try again. In any workforce you'll find performance problems. There is no magic wand to make these problems turn into performance. It takes attentive leadership that cares about team members and provides the development they need to prosper. It also takes the open and dedicated willingness OF those team members to make performance progress happen. We, as leaders, can't do THAT for our team members. Without the willingness, they are truly helpless. It'

Keep Busy, Keep Growing !

How fast are you growing? Can you feel yourself evolving and developing into the next better version of yourself? As old as I am (and if you ask my best friend, she'll tell you I'm OLD) I am still evolving. Still growing. Still experimenting, trying, striving, and stretching. Not as fast as before, perhaps, but there are no additional boundaries -- just opportunities. I aim to do as much as I can as long as I can. As Judi tells me, "you can sleep when you die." Well, I do need sleep BEFORE then, but in the mean time she's right: there's a lot of work to be done. Get busy. -- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Serve First

Think about a time when you experienced tremendous satisfaction. You were not just happy, you were pleased inside and out. Your value was enhanced, your self-esteem was elevated. What caused that? What was it that you did? More importantly, who did you help? Chances are that you helped more than yourself. You probably started by helping someone else, and that lead to helping you as well. High performance leaders serve first. They aren't in it for the ego. The ego is fragile and near-sighted. True leadership achieves noble goals in the service of others. And that's what makes us happy in lasting and meaningful ways.  It is in service that we are best served. Serve first, my friends. It will serve you well. -- doug smith

What's Your Motivation?

Any goal is harder to achieve unless you have a solid reason for wanting to achieve it. Motivation matters. Before you begin all that hard work on a goal, maybe ask yourself this question: why do you want it? If you really DO want it, if the reason is compelling enough it will propel you into motion. And, if it's not, hey, work on something else! -- doug smith

Put Your Ideas Into Action!

Have you ever had a great idea and then nothing came of it? That's happened with me more times than I'd like to admit. Thinking, generating, ruminating, I can turn an idea around in my head until both of us are dizzy. But so what? Until I DO something, that idea sits idle. Our best ideas don't mean much until we put them into action. When you get a great idea: do something! Put your ideas into action. That's how you get things done. -- doug smith  

Here's Your Pumpkin

This is my favorite time of year. The weather is cool, but not cold. The air is crisp, but not bold. Colors are changing all around and (gasp!) pumpkin spice is widely available. What's your favorite time of year?  It's all available there for you to make each season as productive as possible. You are capable of even greater things than you've already accomplished. You are perfectly poised to lead the next great innovation, cure, or creation. Let the crisp autumn air boost you into motion. It's time to get stuff done! Create a great day, no matter what comes your way! -- doug smith

Problem Solving: Work Together

Working collaboratively to solve a problem does take longer but helps us avoid our hard-wired and burdensome bias for broken answers. Working together we see might slow down the process but we extend the positive results. -- doug smith   

Act On Your Ideas

We never run out of ideas on how to create solutions to a problem, but we do have to stop long enough to try one to see if it works. Generate > Decide > Deploy Put those great ideas in motion! -- doug smith

Let Them Convince Themselves

It's hard to convince someone that their solution to a problem doesn't work, until it doesn't work. We cling to our idea. Our experience clarifies our expectations.  When I'm trying to influence someone to consider the ramifications of their ideas, I've learned to first validate the idea (identify whatever is useful about it or appealing) before guiding them thru any analysis of the idea. Seeing the truth can be tough enough, without adding emotional resistance to the mix. It's easier for someone to convince themselves. Convincing them is hard. Let them convince themselves. -- doug smith  

What If It Felt Perfect?

We make mistakes. Your team makes mistakes. You make mistakes. We are not perfect and the best we can do is to do the best we can do. That's more than lip-service. That's more than excuses. Doing the best we can do leaves no effort ignored when the customer's expectations are on the line. When we have the opportunity to truly do our best, it takes more effort, but the customer can feel your sincerity, and feel your work. The goal is not perfection, but what if it felt like perfection to your customer? -- doug smith