Last year, LP Magazine was lucky to be a part of the 2015 Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association (RLPSA) conference with an outstanding keynote presentation by former NFL pro football star Eric Boles. Boles, now the president of Game Changers, Inc., brought his A-game with passion and humor in a session focused on leading change in a new reality. With so many great takeaways from this session, it is difficult to sum up one key point – so instead, we will offer a few of Eric’s insights as they relate to professional development.
When measuring performance, remember to evaluate performance by what you are up against. If you have what appears to be a great leader in a well-performing market, ask whether they prove to be as great in a market where things are tougher. If you move that leader to a more challenging area, will they have the same impact? Eric also offered an excellent comparison between the NFL and the business world: In the real world, if a person does not perform well, they may lose their job. In the NFL, if a player does not perform well, it’s the coach who loses his job. Imagine what kind of loss prevention leaders we might be if it was on us to make sure that our people succeed.
When talking about “potential,” remember that to release potential, you have to give responsibility. We only see someone’s true potential when we push them into situations where they have the opportunity to be great. Much like an athlete trains hard to improve, so too must we push ourselves and each other to improve performance, endurance, and consistency. Create a standard of excellence—and strive for it.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? People fear failure, and as a result they tend to stay where they are comfortable. Eric suggests redefining failure. Rather than looking at it as “I tried and I failed,” look at it as training and professional development. If an attempt does not give the results you expected, learn from it. Reposition, try again, and continue to work hard until you get the result you want. Like an athlete training for a competition, it’s the continued practice and exercise that brings the positive end result. As leaders, we embrace mistakes, and use experience to better the team and drive towards success.
While there were many other fantastic takeaways from Eric’s presentation, he left the audience with a great concept he called the informal frequent feedback tool. Here is how it works: Whether it be with your boss, your team or your family, ask this one question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how am I doing with ______? (where the blank represents a task, issue, or relationship). The response you receive is not nearly as important as what you ask next. Assuming the number is not a 10, you then ask, “What would make it a 10?” This is your action plan—telling you what you need to do and how to optimize your performance as a leader. You will notice the word “frequent” is in the title of the tool. This is because it is meant to be used often. Too often we rely on “annual” and “quarterly” reviews and feedback. This professional development tool allows you to check in as often as daily, providing the direct feedback necessary to course-correct and perform at your best.