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Can You Stay Humble?

Have you known any leaders who let power go to their heads? Some people, once they gain leadership responsibility, allow their self-image and self-interests to take on outrageous proportions. But, leadership is not about selfishness. There is a major difference between healthy self-image and limitless self-interest. High performance leaders care about other people. The results are important, and so are the people. To get there, to take care of people to such a degree that they of course work hard to achieve the desired results, a leader must control that ego. A leader must be humble. You'll know when you are practicing humility: you'll be curious. You'll be patient. You'll be kind. If you're doing all that already, excellent and please continue. If you're not, the opportunity is there. True influence and power requires humility. Humility is an early sign of understanding, and it's in the understanding that we begin to agree, to change, to grow, and

Learning Activity: Zip, Zap, Zoom Alternative

When I attended a regular acting workshop in Denver, Colorado we would often play a game called Zip, Zap, Zoom which some people loved and some people found frustrating. Even though I had great success with most improv games, this game did not work as well for me. That's why I offer this alternative. Purpose: To experience the frustration of playing a winning or losing game and then finding ways to convert that to a win/win game in order to develop a creative habit of looking for mutually beneficial outcomes. Applications: Conflict resolution. Communication skills. Team building. Materials: A writing surface and markers. Dots, or stickers (several for each player) Process: Play the game, Zip, Zap, Zoom conventionally in the first round. Form a circle of people, up to twelve people (for larger groups, break into multiple circles). One person starts by looking at a person to their left and saying either zip or zap. If zip, the next person turns to the left and has th

Learning Activity: Matching Gifts

Purpose: Open up new possibilities in solving problems and achieving your goals. Identify opportunities to apply your gifts and the gifts of your team to problems and opportunities. Materials: Blank Index cards. Preparation: Create two decks of cards. One set of cards contains personal gifts and strengths, such as courage, creativity, clarity, compassion, centeredness, influence, charisma, passion, etc. The other set of cards contains current problems or opportunities that could be addressed using your strengths. Process: Each person draws a card from each of the two decks and explores whether the gift and opportunity match for them, or whether they match someone else in the room. Describe how whoever has that gift might help meet that opportunity or solve that problem by effectively using that gift. Other participants award points: 1 point for a reasonable explanation, 2 points for a creative and effective explanation, 10 points for an explanation and commitment to app

Stay Curious

Curiosity is more powerful than rhetoric, dogma, or unquestioned truth. It's in curiosity that we learn. And, it's in learning that we grow. Stay curious. -- doug smith

Learning Activity: Paradox Castle

Leaders must face what can feel like an endless series of paradoxes. Struggling to hold onto truths that tend to clash yet remain both valid is excellent training for the need to make careful strategic, compassionate, courageous decisions. Purpose: Explore the impact on perception of paradox and its implications for achieving success. Materials: Large prints, posters, or slides of paints by M.C. Escher (and other painters with a flair for painting paradoxical situations.) Process Discuss the meaning of paradox. Ask: What are some examples of paradox in your world? In movies? In art? In leadership? Show two or more works of paradoxical art. Allow several minutes of silent reflection. Break into groups of four who must silently depict the motions of a day in the mental world of the painters presented, taking care to bring out a sense of paradox. Stress the silence. (Allow several minutes. If a group struggles, silently signal them to quietly provide musical / percussion b

Be Careful of Setting Rules

I think we all have a rebellious ten-year old inside of us who does not like rules. Whenever that inner child encounters rules our natural tendency is to find ways to invalidate or violate the rule. We do not like rules imposed on us by other people, even when the rules make sense. Even when the rules are in our own best interest - I can remember years ago when many people resisted wearing seat belts even though riding in a car is MUCH safer with the seatbelts on. It didn't make any sense to violate the rule, but a rule begs to be broken. Yet, we do need rules. If you as a leader are tempted to make up rules because your team or your organization is struggling with boundaries, you can set rules -- you just shouldn't do it all by yourself. Get help. Ask people what rules they need. Find out what will be enforceable and what will not, and even more importantly find out what rules are so useful and sensible and sensitive to the desires of others that they don't even need


Do you remember a time when it was hard to let go of something, long after you knew it was not you'd intended? There have been times that I've thought too much about something, long after thinking about it could do any good. I'm getting better at recognizing those moments. It takes work. It takes recognition. Process, decide, and let go. Note to self: If you keep re-deciding you'll never get anywhere. -- doug smith

Trust Integrity

We have choices. We always have choices. If you have a deep and decent sense of values developed with experience and education, you recognize what is right. What is right does no harm. What is right spreads compassion. What is right leaves no loss. It's not the easy thing. You know that, too. Do the right thing whether or not you ever see the benefit. Someone will. -- doug smith

Be Careful What You Invite

It's tempting as a leader to force people to do things. Influencing them, convincing them takes so much longer. When we're convinced that the change we need to implement is truly a need and not a want and that it will make a necessary difference, we can get impatient. Just do it now, we think. Get on board or get out of the way, we mutter under our breath. Not always, but maybe in those dark times with deadlines pressing and needs to be met. We DO need to achieve that goal, right? People are messy and need time. They need convincing. And the more we take shortcuts by changing the ways that they do things forcefully, without a choice, and even by surprise, the more we face resistance. And rightfully so. Without carefully vetting a change, how can we know that it truly IS the best new choice? Ask. Test. Overcome resistance. Talk about it. Forcing people feels effective but it's really not. Forcing change invites rebellion. And that eventually unravels the relationship

What Are You Following?

Leading requires following, and not just from your followers. What do you believe in? Where is your faith? What drives you? What is your mission? Great leaders know that their direction - the place they are leading others - is built from a combination of influences, some remembered and some forgotten. It's gravity inside. It's magnetic attraction and a pull that keeps pulling. We influence those influences. What we read, what we learn, what we talk about, the art we appreciate and the people we spend time with...we influence our influences. Why not do that with a sense of purpose and adventure? Every great leader is following something. Are you paying attention to what you're following? -- doug smith

Learn Leadership Now!

Fast, affordable leadership training Here are four ways to develop your leadership skills now: Leadership tool box - Click on any of the labels for any entry on this site to find more useful content, much of which will contain suggested actions for developing your skills and leadership calls to action to prompt you.  Teleclass Appointments - You do not need to wait for a teleclass or webinar to be offered to sign up for it. Using our teleclass appointment system you can schedule the teleclass you want, when you want it. Just click here . Supervisors Coaching Calls - Attend our group coaching opportunity for front line leaders to discuss your leadership goals, action plans, insights, and challenges. Designed as a way to extend and apply the learning from previous workshops and teleclasses, but this coaching call is open to anyone who is working on developing leadership skills -- and for a limited time it's free! Register to participate here . Supervising for Success -

Who You Are...

Who you are effects how you see everyone around you. While that feels obvious, it's often mysteriously invisible. -- doug smith