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Showing posts from December, 2022

Tough AND Tender

High performance leaders are able to be simultaneously tough and kind. Tough on the task, tender on the person. -- doug smith  

Limiting Boundaries

How strong are your boundaries? How do you feel about limitations? When those limitations are placed on us by other people we tend to rebel. We don't like being told what to do or what not to do. Boundaries can feel like chains, even when they are well-intended.  Some boundaries are necessary. Not everyone has sense enough to avoid hurting other people, so we need protections from those types of people. But, some boundaries are needlessly restrictive: doubting ourselves, diminishing our self-esteem, holding us back from trying new things that we could enjoy.., Self-imposed boundaries are worth auditing for effectiveness: is this what we really want? Boundaries that stand needlessly in the way of our goals are not serving us well at all. I've had some boundaries that kept me from getting what I wanted until I realized what the wall in front of me was: me. How about you? How are your boundaries? You are bound by your own boundaries before anyone else ever notices them. It's n

Dial Up Your Motivation

 "It's just too hard!" they said, "and I can't find the motivation." "Where do you think motivation comes from?" "Powerful speakers, wonderful leaders, carefully written goals...I don't know." "You probably DO know. All of that is true -- we can find motivation in our circumstance, in our leaders, in our goals, but even if motivation smacks us in the face with a big wet kiss, unless we do something about it, what does it really mean?" "Is that supposed to be motivating?" "Only if you want it to be..." "But things are so tough!" "Sure they are. Always have been. Not likely to change. If the world was easy the soft would rule. If you don't want to BE ruled, you might need to find some inner motivation -- especially when you need it." Motivation matters most when times get tough. Find your motivation wherever you can. The reality is, motivation comes from yourself. -- doug smith

Centered Problem Solving : You May Need to Do Something

Centered Problem Solving : You May Need to Do Something : No matter what anyone tells you, some problems can not be imagined away. We'd like to believe that positive thinking can accomplish anything. Anything? I'm not so sure. It's comforting to think that our beliefs matter more than the facts -- but have you ever pitted your beliefs against immutable facts and prevailed? That stove top will still burn your hand no matter how much you believe that it is harmless. That gathered army on your border could still invade you no matter how positive you think about your enemies. I'm not against a metaphysical awareness -- far from it -- I just don't rely on metaphysics when physics is in control.  Imagine all you want. Believe all you want. But, that problem you are facing probably will need some action if you want to solve it. -- doug smith

Way Beyond What You Used to Be

Aren't you glad that you are past your mistakes? Oh you, and I, will certainly make more mistakes but hopefully we are long past who we used to be. Character grows from doing the right things. Wisdom grows from learning from your mistakes. Whoever we once were, it's our job to grow beyond that into someone better. Grow. Keep growing. Set and work on goals that push you onward. Grow so much that who you used to be scares you.  Because who you are becoming is so much better, and you just barely escaped what was. -- doug smith

Ask Your Customers

Customers don't want you to assume what they need -- they much rather tell you. Ask, listen, and then respond -- doug smith  

What About Slackers?

It's a question so often asked: what do we do about people who just won't do their job? What's happened to any sense of work-ethic? It's not gone. There are still plenty of people who are dedicated and hard-working. Ambition is alive and well, and work-ethic thrives among many. Still, those who seem to just phone-it-in (often with their phones in their hands scrolling away) seem to have multiplied: they're everywhere. It is frustrating to work hard while standing next to someone who is hardly working. But that's not the way it has to be. There is joy to be found in the work, even if some people are not trying very hard to find that joy. People who won't do their jobs have not yet discovered the joy in their work. If that makes you sad, imagine how hard it makes them. Part of our job as leaders is to help ignite that spark of joy in people, to help them discover the joy of work -- any work. Some people do show up already motivated, and some people do not. Our

Surprise! Learning!

Surprise! Learning is happening all around you, sometimes even TO you. I plan learning all the time, by reading, by attending workshops, by teaching, by scheduling adventures, by trying new projects...but you know what? Sometimes the best learning comes by surprise, when I least expect it.  From a problem...from a mistake...from a customer's remarks...from a student's suggestion... You don't have to have asked for learning for learning to show up.  "Keep learning," I tell myself, "Keep learning." -- doug smith

There It Is...

Before you change anything, ask yourself "what's the goal?" because once you've changed it, there it is! -- doug smith

Enjoy Your Job

I remember some days when I just didn't want to go to work. Maybe it was the commute. Maybe it was the idea of upset customers. It just didn't feel like the fun thing to do. But, you know what? I had to go to work anyway, and whether or not I made the most of it, the work had to get done. And it did. Fortunately, in every job I've ever had I've been able to find joy in the work. Once that clicks in, the work goes better, the customers smile more, and life feels right. So, I decided to embrace my work, whatever it is, and not only do my best but also enjoy myself as I did it.  You have to do your job anyway, why not enjoy it? It's worked time and time again for many, many people.  -- doug smith  

Listening to Customers

It can make such a great difference. When we want to actually serve our customers -- instead of just harvesting them for money -- our work becomes more enjoyable.  Customers can be annoyingly needy, but the annoying part is up to us and how we listen. Why do customers get excited? They get aggravated when they don't get what they want. Customer get irritated when the service does not meet their expectations. That does not mean that we need to give away the store to make a customer happy. Most of the time it only means that we need to listen. A customer who feels heard is far more likely to also feel satisfied.  When we don't listen enough for a customer to feel heard, they get louder. And louder. And louder. We have to listen to customers anyway -- why not enjoy it?  Why not listen with curiosity and respond with sincerity? It's better service than most customers get, and it has the bonus benefit of making us feel better, too.  

Overcome Resistance

Sometimes resistance to a goal is evidenced of its need. If it wasn't important, it wouldn't catch any heat. Keep going. Act relentlessly on your plan. -- doug smith

When Leadership Begins

When does leadership start? Is it when we have formed our mission? Is it when our ambition rises to the occasion and tells us to take charge? What do you think? Here's what I think: Leadership starts when we think of other people first. We need to be leaders in order to make things better for other people. if you're only making things better for yourself, that doesn't take leadership, that just takes initiative and ambition. But, when you see a way to make things better for other people as well as yourself, it takes leadership to mobilize people to help. Because without the help of other people, you aren't really a leader at all. -- doug smith  

Real Care

Have you ever been tricked into believing that a company cares about you, only to discover that once they have your money they don't? That doesn't feel good, and it happens all too often. Companies focus on marketing (because that's where the money comes from) and under-value the service. Some companies even strategically decide to reduce the level of service to their customers (I'm looking at you cable-company) based on cost considerations. A customer is only worth so much, apparently. That type of thinking is both wrong, and short-sighted. You've got a whole zone of possibilities available to you, all the way from treating customers poorly to treating them royally. What do you want to be remembered for? Don't fool customers into thinking that you care about them -- instead, really DO care about them. It feels (and works out) better for both of you. -- doug smith

Be Nice

Have you ever had a boss who thought that in order to get the best performance from you they had to treat you like dirt? If so, how did you feel about that? Leadership is a balance, but that balance too often leans to the side of manipulation and force. Being mean is a poor, sad, troubling strategy.  When is it appropriate for a leader to act like a jerk? Never. Many supervisors could double their effectiveness if they stopped acting like jerks. If you catch yourself about to get mean, come clean and restart.  -- doug smith


Over-simplification complicates things. -- doug smith

Still No Excuses

It's a rookie kind of mistake, an inexperienced-hasn't-learned-better error in judgement: making excuses. As one of my former bosses,  Bruce Green once told me, "Nobody cares about your excuses.: Offering an excuses looks unprofessional. It won't work. It won't change the situation. Own your mistakes and move on. After all, you did learn something from it, didn't you? -- doug smith 

Listening Bonus

  People listen to other listeners. Try it. It's amazing. -- doug smith

Status Booster

I'd prefer it if status was not a factor. Especially, when it comes to leadership, wouldn't it be better if we didn't need to concern ourselves with status? But there it is: status as a constant. In the face of all of the surface maneuvers around status, we also have the opportunity to prove our professionalism. If we can focus on the mission when other people focus on their own personal enhancement, we can get more done. People are more likely to follow a leader who serves the mission first and their own esteem much later. I'm not saying that esteem isn't important, only that it should be down on your list after serving your mission and other people -- especially the people you lead. When we are challenged -- when people force an issue to see how professional we are -- that can be managed skillfully. We do not need to over-react. We do not need to cover our exterior. An opportunity to prove your professionalism is reason to celebrate, because it can be a convincing

What's Your Status?

In my studies about performing and writing plays, one of the things that I learned was that there is always status in every scene. If two people are in a scene, one of them has higher status than the other and then for the rest of the scene there is a kind of struggle over that status. The one with lessor status strives to win, the won with higher status strives to preserve. It may not hold up for EVERY scene, but if you watch for it you'll see how prevalent that is. Why is that? Could it be that in LIFE we also struggle for status? Could it be that when we sense that we are being treated as if our status is lower than others that we do not like that and work to change it? If, as a leader, you visibly treat your team members as underlings, they will notice. If you treat them as equals -- keeping in mind different levels of responsibility -- as equals your team members will respond with more initiative. Isn't that more of what you really want? Whether or not you like it or suppo

Do the Work

Have you ever noticed someone acting as if they had a magic wand. They wait, they delay, they avoid doing work that clearly needs doing, as if some kind of miracle could rescue them. As a strategy, that's not going to work. When we've got a problem to solve and work to be done, hoping for a miracle will only create disappointment. We might as well resolve ourselves to doing the work. There's no such thing as magic. -- doug smith

Being Professional

What makes someone a professional? Many factors, you might say: - certifications - education - peer recognition - ability - attitude and while the list is long, here's what I think: When you behave like a professional, professional status will emerge. Because if you change how you approach your work to be focused on being as professional as you can be, by serving your customers to the fullest, by committing to only top quality -- when you change and form habits that reinforce your personal belief that you ARE a professional -- your results, and your reactions, change. Act like a professional -- why would you ever do anything else? -- doug smith

Leadership Productivity

Productivity = do what can be done with what is available. And if you add in leadership? If you add in leadership productivity becomes on time, on budget, and to quality specifications. Isn't that what high performance leaders do? -- doug smith