Professional Diet Killing You?

A diet, by definition, consists of the things that we regularly consume to improve and positively impact our well-being.  Our diet is what we ingest, and most likely will determine our ability to perform.  Diets even impact the quality of our lives. Dieting to lose weight, especially excess weight, is designed to increase mobility, improve heart health, gain traction and lead a healthier life.

What is your professional diet? Are you on the “right” professional diet? 

Here are some questions to gauge if your professional diet is what it should be. If not, this is an opportunity for a new beginning.

1.     Are you carrying around professional weight or baggage that prevents you from maximizing your performance?  Examples of professional baggage include – a defeatist mentality and attitude; being constantly critical of peers and direct reports; unwillingness to share effective practices; exhibiting discriminatory and prejudicial tendencies; unwillingness to collaborate.

2.     Is your professional diet stale?  Have you had the same professional diet for years?  Are you unwilling to read up-to-date books/articles that are aligned to your professional practice?  Have you read relevant material in the past 30 days?  Do you examine and utilize leadership practices beyond your current professional arena?  Do you intentionally maintain a work-life—balance (self-care)?  

3.     Have you maintained the same professional circle or have you expanded to persons outside of your comfort? Outside of your childhood or college friends?  Do you surround yourself with individuals who are positive and solutions oriented?  Do you embody humility, understanding that data is important but at the end of every data point is a person (humanity trumps data)? Do you surround yourself with people who do not always agree with you?

4.     Have you sought professional development outside of the normal offerings?  Have you looked beyond professional development in your organization? Have you explored learning  opportunities that could be value-add outside of your region? Have you facilitated a professional development or provided thought leadership/partnership to peers or other leaders within the past 6 months?

5.     Do you verify that your claimed expertise in any given field is robust, relevant and authentic?  Do you share your knowledge? Are you humble regarding your abilities? Do you focus on the data to support your practices? Does your track record provide evidence of a solid experience?

6.     Are you setting and keeping the bar high for yourself and others?  Do you demonstrate shared accountability?  Do you practice empathy and compassion?  Do you allow the mission and vision of the organization to drive your behavior? Do you engage positively with ALL stakeholders?

7.     Have you selected a mentor who can provide the "right" and prudent professional guidance to you? Example; You are consuming cutting edge and up to date information, research, and other resources in your given field of work; your mentor is an expert, has a proven track record of excellence, is honest with you, and is available to you with consistency.

Leaders, I encourage each of you to make the necessary adjustments to your professional diet, and remember that if the leaders are not professionally healthy, the team or organization will need intensive care.

 Written by contributing collaborator  Dr. Ian A. Roberts (co-author of The Power of Seven Second Chances)



Leadership Lessons from the Tennis Court

Photo Credit: Montammy Golf Club

Photo Credit: Montammy Golf Club

I had never even been on a tennis court. The closest I’d come to playing tennis was watching Serena hit those 129 mph serves from the comfort of my couch.   However, the coaching guru Alan Fine proved that even something as physical as playing tennis was much easier when the coach avoids giving advice and coaches from an inside out approach instead. 

When I stepped on the court I had a million thoughts in my head. Why am I out here in my workout clothes? I don’t know these people. I should have done more crunches. Does this jacket make me look pudgy? I don’t know how to hold this racket? Is she recording? Then it happened – he pitched one ball. I use the word “pitch” because I hit it like a baseball – literally.

That thing went flying. 

You would’ve thought I was Jackie Robinson or Hank Aaron. The ball landed on another court. He threw another. The second one fared no better - think "home run." Now my mind was really going. You look like an idiot. Why did you agree to this? That’s what you get for always trying to be out front. Show off! Now look at you.

I don’t have these kinds of thoughts regularly. But this day was different. I was learning a new skill. Often when people are trying to learn new skills they have the same kind of stressful thoughts. Alan names these stressful thoughts "interference."

  • Then it happened. He focused me. He asked me about my goal. I said that I wanted to look like a tennis player at least hitting the ball on the correct court. He said ok and then offered no tennis advice. He focused me by saying, “When the ball hits the ground, you say ‘bounce’ and when your racquet hits the ball say ‘hit.” I’ve got it. This is simple. I can follow the simple instructions (not really instructions).

I did it.

Alan then threw me about 15 more balls and I hit all of them with 12 of them landing in regulation. Can you say “zero to hero?” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know anything about the physics of tennis and all of a sudden I was self-correcting and hitting the ball.

What does this have to do with leadership?

Well not only did my productivity and quality improve, my spirit was lifted. I was so happy. My engagement was at an all time high. I had overcome, what I believed, was an insurmountable obstacle. Our people are no different. They are often struggling with all kinds of interference. Our roles as leaders are to help focus them in order to minimize the impact of whatever interference they might have - for our organizations and for them. 

We have to believe that they can do what we are asking but they lack the confidence or focused time to think it through. They already know how to be great. Using the GROW model as a tool to coach rather than give advice, is the perfect way to increase focus. Many leaders say they don’t have time to coach but what I learned on a tennis court in less than 12 minutes confirmed that coaching results in such amazing outcomes that we might consider abandoning all other approaches.

The steps are simple.

  1. Get clear on the goal.
  2. Use coaching questions to accelerate decision-making through focus.

If you want to know more about the InsideOut Development approach visit the site or read the book You Already Know How to be Great. Want to laugh? Watch my tennis lesson.

The Performance Review: It's Not a Report Card

The Performance Review: It's Not a Report Card

There are many different opinions about performance reviews. Some organizations have formal reviews once per year with a check point at midyear. Other organizations are being less formal and have gotten rid of the formal review process altogether in hopes that their leaders will have performance conversations at a regular, casual cadence. I have recently learned of an organization that has eliminated ratings altogether…kind of. See, the employees think they aren’t being rated but the leaders and HR professionals have a rating scale that is private. In essence, they are lying to the people. Why?