Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2023


  We are so easily distracted. Quick to catch the latest gadget, widget, or shiny object, we divert our attention from the task at hand and follow bunny trails into the forrest.  A distraction could feel like a goal. We get pulled into those kind of little goals, little tasks, that hardly relate to our purpose at all. Maybe, not at all. We feel busy, but where is it leading? Time spent on the wrong goals takes time away from the right goals. That is obvious but hard to remember in the middle of distractions. -- doug smith

Hard Work

Sometimes the work is hard. Challenges force us to get creative, to muscle up and make a difference. Hard work feels harder when it's resisted. Instead of resisting, dig in, get deep, get done. -- doug smith  

Leadership Problems

Leaders have problems just like everybody else and they have an unfair ability to spread those problems. They can, with their power and influence, make things worse. But they don't have to. You don't have to. Leaders can also use their influence and power to make things better. Working well with others, leaders can solve those problems. Let's take the better choice. -- doug smith  

Bad Idea

It seemed like such a good idea. It was pushed thru with enthusiasm. But it didn't work. Not then. And, not now. Have you ever had an idea like that? It felt so good you practically fell in love with it. The only trouble is, it didn't produce what you expected. The sooner we let go of a bad idea the faster it can stop poisoning. Let go of that bad idea.  -- doug smith  


When a problem surrounds you it often confounds you. Keep focused on the goal beyond the problem. --- doug smith

What if it's not procrastination?

We can't get everything done. Our team members can't get everything done. High performance leaders know that prioritization is a key to success. That could mean deciding as much what you won't do as what you will do. Have you ever put some thing off for so long that you eventually didn't need to do it anymore? (Honestly, doesn't it seem like that's the strategy for some procrastinators?) It's not all bad. We could simply be more intentional about it. While getting the important stuff done, we should feel OK about leaving some less important things undone. It's not procrastination if the thing you are avoiding is not worth doing.  Just don't do it. -- doug smith  

Leadership Choice

Which would you prefer -- a leader who knows how to do your job and could do it if you weren't there, or a leader who has never done what you do and couldn't do it if the business depended on it? As a leader, you could find yourself in either circumstance. In fact, the higher you go in an organization the more likely you are to be in charge of people who do things that you do not know how to do. You don't need to know how to do what your direct reports do, but if you do, that does add a layer of respect. But sooner or later, the respect will need to come from your skills a s leader. -- doug smith

Kernel of Peace

Every conflict contains its own kernel of peace. It is not easy to find. Maybe it is too obvious. Your opposition may have figured it out and is holding out for an advantage. Or, maybe that's YOU. We get attached to our conflicts. They wrap around us, they addict us in the adrenaline rush of survival. We cover over solutions just to keep the conflict flames flying. But, it's a choice. Find that kernel of peace. Work it. Share it. Solve it. -- doug smith

Conflict Mistake

It is natural to make mistakes when we find ourselves in conflict. It feels uncomfortable. We want to return to normal. We just want the conflict to stop. But, wait...before you stop that conflict too soon by giving in, please keep this in mind: In a conflict you aren't doing anyone else a favor by letting the other side win. If you lost then it's not over. You'll be back, somehow, someday, someway to try to even the score. And, if you aren't back, the conflict will linger in your memory as a smudge on what might have been. The hard part is finding a mutually beneficial resolution to the conflict. Short of that, just remember that it's not yet over. -- doug smith  

Fear Is Fuel

It's not your first choice, is it? That feeling of anxiety. That moment when turning away seems easier than facing a problem head-on. Fear stinks. What if we don't turn away? What if we use that moment of fear to mobilize, to actualize, to realize our potential? Fear is fuel. Use what you are afraid of to get what you want. -- doug smith

Generational Wings

  Today's leaders are dealing with more generations than ever before. Each generation seems to bring its own fresh, new set of challenges to leaders. Are we forever doomed to deal with generational differences? Is the youngest generation the worst ever? No. The youngest generation certainly does bring its own challenges, but to say that it is the worst or toughest ever is to disregard the past. Every generation is tough. Every generation takes years to find its footing and to fit in with (or change) the culture. Every generation needs to test its independence and that usually aggravates the generation that came before them. Unless. Unless the next older generation can pause long enough to remember their own years of rebellion.  It's not unique. It's what we do. Once we learn to work together, imagine how much more will be possible. -- doug smith


  I remember a long time ago working on a production of "The Man of LaMancha" and wondering, seriously wondering, what kind of illusion caused don Quixote to tilt at windmills. He was sincere in his beliefs. He was nearly convincing in his convictions -- but it was all most an illusion. Do you know anyone like that? Can you think of someone so convinced of a "truth" that is clearly an outright fallacy that they cannot think rationally? Some people fall in love with their illusions, the way that don Quixote fell in love with Dulcinea. The heart is there, the energy is there, but there is no truth there. Falling in love with an illusion does not make it real. -- doug smith

Insist on Honesty

Even if honesty seems rare, you can achieve it with discipline. When you practice it. When you insist on it. When you get better at testing your assumptions. When you give people the chance to tell the truth by responding with respect. High performance leaders finds ways to explore before they implore -- they make certain of the truth before they swear by it. Powerful leaders stay open to possibilities that they may not have contemplated and allow the truth to emerge. Once the truth emerges, there will still be people who doubt it, who still will resist. When we can share what we think and what we feel with honesty, it will serve us well even when we're wrong (because even honest people are sometimes wrong). Insist on honesty with respect - it's a great path to the truth. -- doug smith

Develop Discipline

How much more disciplined do you wish your team was? Disciplined enough to do the work, to achieve the results, to bring about the organization's mission on a daily basis. It starts by modeling discipline. Developing and demonstrating healthy habits like: Showing up early (but not too early).  Listening without judging even when you are aching to comment critically Taking on the tough assignments Finishing what you start Standing up to unfairness and injustice Working side by side with your team The list could go on. Add whatever behavior you want to see more of to that list and then, if you truly do want to see more of it from your team, you'll need to show it more often TO your team. They'll follow you. Maybe not at first, but eventually, and seriously. Discipline helps us to do the right thing before we realize it's the right thing. That's what makes it so powerful. -- doug smith  

Leadership Communication

The art of leadership is communicating with the right amount of urgency exactly what people need to do next. They may know already and tell you what needs to be done. They have no idea and need clear directions. They may be filled with clues or utterly clueless. The science of leadership becomes the art of leadership the moment you start to communicate. How are you with the art of leadership? -- doug smith

The First Step

The first step in communicating better is developing the ability to connect with respect. Respect for the person, for the space, for the time. Respect for the results you are communicating to achieve. Respect for the willingness to share a conversation in hopes of reaching shared meaning. Connect with respect. It's a great place to start. -- doug smith  

Practicing Respect

Wouldn't it be great if respect came naturally and we didn't even need to think about it? It doesn't. We carry around so many tensions, stresses, and levels of bias that sometimes respect comes very hard indeed. It might even feel impossible. Respect takes practice. It takes practice to demonstrate respect all of the time, and so it is always practice. Intentional, studied, demonstrated practice. I'm still practicing. How about you? -- doug smith  

Silence or Apology?

Can you remember the last time you said something that you regret? Did it result in embarrassment? Maybe even an apology? It's certainly happened to me. It's even possible to say something that no amount of regret or apology can erase -- or even diminish. In other words, the harm is permanent and severe. Oh, if there was only a way to avoid that... There is. It's simple, but not easy. Simply pause. Before saying that "wonderfully outrageous" thing or "brilliantly sarcastic" comment pause long enough to take a few breaths. Embrace silence. A moment of silence can prevent a lifetime of regret.  If you need to, you can always say that incendiary thing in the future. But, you probably won't need to, and you'll be glad that you let the moment pass. -- doug smith

Go Deeper

Being absolutely sure of something means I've only explored one side. Not only is our individual perspective imperfect, it is also incomplete. Go deeper -- that's where the treasure lives. -- doug smith 

Not That Funny?

Are you gifted with sarcasm? Many people are. What's the harm, right? A little jokey joke here and there, just kidding, no big deal... What if it is a big deal? What if people misinterpret your jokey joke as a raging insult. Do you think it's possible that within every sarcastic comment there is a kernel of truth? That kernel of truth, once exposed, could lead to a productive and deep discussion of major issues -- or it could lead to the deterioration of a relationship. I leave it to you to decide which you think is more likely. Whenever possible (and...I think that is always...) I like to embrace humor while eschewing sarcasm. Why be bitter or biting when there are so many other ways to laugh? Kindness costs nothing while sarcasm leaves scars. Let's stay kind. -- doug smith

New Hires

Every time someone new joins your team, the whole team changes. Dynamics shift. Relationships move. Routines get modified and values get passed on or passed over.  Even if you've delegated the task of welcoming and orienting new team members (by the way, congratulations on delegating!) as the team leader you still have the profound responsibility of helping that new team member succeed in the service of the team and in the development of their individual goals. Ignore that responsibility, and everything slips. Focus on the value of each and every team member, and everything strengthens. Remember that a new hire is just learning what it takes to prosper in your team. Why not make certain that they learn successfully? -- doug smith