Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2024

Learn the Lesson...

Ever have to repeat a lesson because you didn't get it the first time? Of course. Me, too. I figured out that the biggest reason is that I was in such a hurry to get back on track that I got back on the wrong track. Before you know it, same mistake, and basically the same lesson. Slow down enough to learn the lesson and you might not need to repeat it. I'm hoping that works for me. How about you? -- doug smith  

It's Not A Family

You don't have to create a family at work. Families come with their own difficulties and if you've ever worked in a family business you know all about that. People at work don't have to love each other, but they do need to respect each other. Communicating clearly and honestly is a start. Collaborating instead of competing helps. Do your job, jump in to help when you're needed, and keep supporting the team's mission and goals. You don't need to create a family at work to build a great team. What you need is clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion.  Great leaders create the atmosphere where those core strengths prosper. -- doug smith

Is It Ethical?

  The best, most reliable leaders make ethical choices. You may have discovered, though, that people do define ethical in many different ways. For some, if it's right for the it must be ethical, even when it is not right for someone else. We do need a better standard. As leaders we serve best when we do no harm. Any leadership that produces victims is poor leadership headed for long term failure.  If you have to ask if something is ethical you probably already know the answer. Just imaging how you would feel if you were not given the choice.  -- doug smith

Constantly Build Your Team

  As we adjust to the changing roles and responsibilities of leadership, it's worth considering the importance of our teams. Leaders get things done thru their teams. Often that means learning FROM our team members even as we facilitate their own learning. Instead of dictating, new leaders collaborate. Team success is a shared goal. The strength of a leader comes from the strength of the team. Not the other way around. If that feels new, it is.  -- doug smith

What If You Know The Secret?

The project team is stuck. Answers are not only hard to find, they seem impossible. The problem keeps causing mistakes and creating barriers. Within robust conversations we discover that although far from perfect, the process with the problem offers plenty of opportunity. Something small and almost unnoticeable turns out to be useful.  Within every problem is something that is working. What if that contains the secret to success? -- doug smith

Caring About Change

  Have you ever felt a sudden change that you did not approve of? Maybe your company decides that you have reduced hours. Or, maybe your boss decides that the promotion you were counting on is best given to someone else. Change is like a dance we did not choose the music to. Change is like an invitation to a party filled with strangers. Change rocks our world, and only sometimes makes it better. How are you using change to makes things better? Good luck is a change you can approve of. Bad luck is a change that you do not approve of, but that happens anyway. Change basically does not care what you think. The choice is still up to you. Which next change gives you positive choices? Where is your best choice? -- doug smith

There Is Always More to Learn

It may be comforting to lean on what we've already learned, but it's not enough. That doesn't mean that we need to abandon everything that we've learned, just to pay attention to what is changing. We can rely on learned foundational principles like continuous learning, ethical leadership, participative leadership, respectful communication and other core strengths that serve us well and that still matter. We also need to react to and find ways to manage brand new learning. Just exactly WILL we lead completely virtual workforces? How WILL we manage misinformation? What SHOULD we do about creating fair opportunities? There is much to be learned, but then again there always HAS been much to learn. The challenge now is to keep up the pace, to distinguish truth from deception, and to treat people with respect while building our own flexibility. What we've learned is important. What we still must learn is critical. -- doug smith 

Difficult People Struggle

Do you ever struggle with difficult people?  Don't we all? It can be frustrating -- so frustrating that we do our best to avoid confrontation. It can be so troubling that we try to put distance between ourselves and those difficult people. Or, it can be so troubling that we do everything we can to return that trouble -- to confront with strength and conviction. Either way, if someone feels like a difficult person, imagine how difficult the situation feels to them. Sometimes difficult people are most difficult to themselves. Maybe they need more help than confrontation. Isn't that worth considering? -- doug smith  


  What's the longest amount of time you've ever spent trying to solve an unsolvable problem? It could be weeks. It could be months. Maybe even longer. When it has happened to me and I discovered that what I was dealing with was a problem that had to be managed, not solved, I was both furious and relieved. Furious at the time wasted, but relieved because I could stop wasting time on it. It's also possible that while we might conjure up a solution to a problem that is causing us fits we could also discover that the problem doesn't even require a solution. It is, in fact, a situation with differences of opinion. Not a problem, but a conflict. Not every conflict can be resolved, but those that can behave differently than problems. There are differences in the perspective. Differences of opinion among the stakeholders. Different ideas of what an ideal solution should look like. What if the problem doesn't need a solution? What if it needs something else? Unthinkable? Onl

Not So Easy?

Have you ever struggled with a change? Struggled to adapt to someone else's change? Struggled to influence others to follow your change? Change can be tough. Balance may be the key. Balancing stability and change, so that you avoid being overwhelmed, seems like such a great idea. Shouldn't it be easy? Balancing stability and change is the easiest thing in the world -- just like riding a bike in a hurricane. No, it's not so easy. If discouragement sets in, remember all those times you've changed before and roll with it. Change isn't hard -- it's unavoidable.   -- doug smith

Show You Care

Goals are important. So is how your goals affect other people. Did you consult anyone your goal will impact? Did you look for help from others? Did you help anyone else achieve their goals this week? People will care more about your goals when you care more about people. Show you care by listening, by helping, and even by laughing at their bad jokes. People are worth it. -- doug smith  

Interesting How That Works...

  If you want to sell something, you need at least two things: a really great product, and a really great you. People will care much more about what you have to offer when they care more about you. Products, goals, careers... People will care more about your goals when you care more about people. -- doug smith

Define Yourself

  The size of your goals does not define you, but your ability to achieve them does. What you define is secondary to what you do. Set meaningful goals, of course. Then, work them until you achieve them.  Sometimes you will fail. Try again. Sometimes you will succeed. Set a new goal. It's the work that gives you the juice you need to keep working. When people see that when you set a goal you mean business -- you mean to do what it takes to achieve that goal -- that sets a sharp definition you can live with. You do want to be known as someone who works to get what you want, don't you? -- doug smith

Manage the Goal

  Do you manage your goals? Setting the goal is important. Working the goal is essential. Powering up the goal with a path of high energy discipline is empowering. Also important: managing the goal. Like a project, with the discipline of steady effort and constant communication, each goal is managed to success. Each goal is a project. To get the most of your goal, you've got to manage that project. It does not happen on its own. -- doug smith

Where Does The Power Come From?

  Great goals need great power. They need the power to keep going thru resistance. They need the power to innovate when the temptation is to stagnate.  Where does that power come from? You know this! The power comes from you. Hard as it may sometimes seem, you do have the power to achieve your own goals. Power for your goals comes from what you're already good at -- or plan to get good at -- and are willing to work for, Set the goal, do the work, and feel the power. -- doug smith

More Than The Goal

It's not the goal that makes you happy -- it's the work you do to achieve the goal that does. If it's too easy, it hardly matters. If it's too hard, you might not reach it. Calibrate your goals correctly and then do your relentless best to get the work done. That's where you'll measure success. -- doug smith  

Find the Opportunity

Every conversation contains at least one opportunity.  Getting to know someone, clarifying expectations, resolving conflict, helping achieve a goal...the opportunities are rich with possibility once we recognize them. It's easy to miss that opportunity and waste the time, but when we understand the opportunity and do our best to communicate clearly and effectively, we can enjoy the benefits of those opportunities through productive conversations.  Find the opportunity.  -- doug smith  

Change Delayed

Have you ever procrastinated on changing something that you knew needed to be changed? I sure have. I once worked with some producers who were consistently late in paying their premiums. I knew they were late, but for several months could not figure out how to remedy the situation. What if I upset the producer and they took their business someplace else. I wasn't happy about it, and neither was my boss. It was not the time to wait and see, it was the time to change the process. We did eventually, but not before the issue became a problem. Every problem points to a change that's been missed. Change delayed just gets in the way. -- doug smith

Wisdom Applied

If you're at all like me, there have been times when you thought you learned something but then didn't put it to use. By the time we get around to putting that new skill to use, it's gone.  The key is to put that skill to use right away. That day if possible and certainly within a week. Practice makes the skill stick. It won't be perfect at first (or ever!) but practice makes it better. Wisdom forgotten is not on your side. Wisdom applied is a trustworthy guide. -- doug smith  

Multiple Choice When Possible

  If you miss the deadline on your goal, what should you do? Should you... a) extend the deadline b) break the goal down into smaller goals c) double your attention time on the goal d) all of the above If it matters the choice could be: all of the above. When the goal is important you do what you need to do to achieve that goal. Missing the deadline is not the end of the world. It should definitely up the urgency, though. -- doug smith

Climb higher

  When you can achieve your goals, that's success.  Sometimes, a goal is like the peak of a mountain and reaching it is that moment of success. But whether or not you reach the peak, making the journey takes you higher. Take your goals seriously, and you will win. Climb higher. -- doug smith

Plan Next

  Feeling discouraged? Did that plan go wrong? Plans go wrong all the time. Make new plans and keep moving. You've got everything you need. -- doug smith

You Be You

People will make lots of assumptions about you. You don't have to accept any of them. -- doug smith

First, the Agreement

Working against each other is too much work. How many times have you been working on an important goal and discovered that someone was working against you? Whether it was intentional or not, it was inconvenient, and just plain annoying. If there is anyone who could stand in the way of your goal, start a conversation about gaining their support. Once we've agreed on the goal, the work gets easier. Resistance declines. Progress advances. Goals get achieved. -- doug smith  

Keep Looking

You may not have found the solution yet but you're way ahead of anyone who's stopped looking. -- doug smith

Get the Scoop

Are you an optimist? Do you think that things will always work out, no matter what? Or, maybe you're a pessimist, always waiting for things to fall apart, whether or not you can fix them. What matters more is awareness. Getting the scoop. Figuring out the facts and sorting them out from emotions. Neither optimism nor pessimism is any excuse for ignorance. Figure it out. -- doug smith  

Clarify, Clarify, Clarify

  I do not like to make assumptions. But, sometimes I do. I'll assume someone has bad intentions, when maybe they just have bad manners. I'll assume someone's goal is in conflict with mine, when it's really just a different path to the same destination. Misunderstanding someone else's goal can lead to unnecessary conflict. Clarify, clarify, clarify. Ask questions. Listen. Reach mutual understanding, even if agreement does not seem remotely possible. Understanding might get you half way there... -- doug smith

Make Your Best Call

  Have you ever acted quickly in an urgent situation, because it was urgent, only to later discover there was a better choice? High performance leaders do need a sense of urgency. They also need a clear view and careful analysis before acting recklessly. Time provides perspective that urgency can not. Take a breath. Take some time. Make your best call. -- doug smith

Make It Happen

Leaders are paid to produce results. What if the results that leaders produced included optimism? What if they included hope? What if they created great days? Leaders can do that. You can do that. Let's do that. Give people a reason to believe that this is a great day.  Because if you make it happen, it happens. -- doug smith