I recently caught up with Robb Holman over email to talk about his intriguing bestseller, Lead the Way. Holman is an internationally recognized leadership expert, executive coach, keynote speaker, and CEO of Holman International, a global leadership consultancy. 

Unlike typical management practices that shoot for an outside-in, carrot-and-stick method of getting into the hearts of workers, Holman's message centers around his "Inside Out Leadership" philosophy. 

So what's the big idea? Holman sets himself apart by helping leaders and entrepreneurs truly understand why they exist so they can maximize their passion and purpose, and see that infused into their work and life. 

To Holman, it all begins with you as the leader. He says, "One of the most valuable things I've learned is that you can only give what you got.  If we effectively serve ourselves, new can effectively serve others in our sphere of influence."

Framing our conversation around his book's big idea, I dug deeper and asked him five questions (edited for length and clarity). 

What are some examples of how leaders can serve themselves before serving others? 

Holman: ​It's all about integrated wholeness. Making sure that we have genuine sense of who we are​, ​wherever we go, whenever it​ is​. In order to serve ourselves as an integrated whole, I encourage people to:

  • Discover or re-discover your personal purpose by understanding who you are -- your core values, strengths, passions, and primary gifts.
  • Be honest about your hurt and brokenness.  Have a consistent and intentional time of self-reflection where you can be authentic with yourself about the help you really need!
  • Engage in ​healthy accountability (in community​)​. Make sure that you are connecting with at least one person in your life consistently and intentionally where there is no fear of judgment. This person acts as a source of encouragement, attentive sounding board, ​and practical voice of wisdom.  

What is one foundational aspect of Inside Out Leadership?

Holman: [It's] "redefining success." Sadly, we have let our country, world, and even workplace culture define what success is for us. This can look like making a certain level of income by a specific age, having a certain title or position by a specific season of life, etc. Let's not get sucked into the current and ride the wave of what our culture says is important; let's take a step back and redefine what success is based on the things that really matter to us.

What is one of the core convictions that make up an Inside Out Leader?

Holman: "Lead Yourself First." I have studied and learned from Inside Out Leaders all around the world and this one core conviction a vast majority of these leaders live by. It breaks my heart that so many leaders today are stretched way too thin, running on fumes, or even burn out and may not know it. Leading yourself first is about personal stewardship.  If you want to be a good steward of your sphere of influence, it begins in you and with you. A couple important aspects are learning to take proper care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

OK, I'll bite. What are some good examples of how to do that?

Holman: It's all about getting back to the basics. Do you maintain a healthy diet? What about a proactive plan for incorporating the basic food groups? Drinking half your body weight of water (in ounces) per day is key! A study finds that just healthy food isn't just healthy for the body, it's healthy for the brain too.  The more healthy a person eats, the happier and more effective they will be -- personally and professionally! ​

Develop positive exercise habits. Most physiologists agree that doing the following on a weekly basis is the minimum our bodies require for health and longevity:

  • At least five days aerobic exercise for a duration of at least 30-minutes Power walking is one of the best ways to satisfy this requirement.
  • Two days of some form of weight training. The burpee with integrated push-ups is the best single load-bearing exercise you can do.

Get good sleep. We know we should get a minimum of 7 hours per night for the sake of sanity. Beyond that, there are so many reasons to prioritize sleep it's astonishing. Sleep has been shown to reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, and stroke, increase your capacity to learn, help you control emotions, and even make you happier!

Sticking to the theme of self-care and spirituality, bring us home by telling us about the "Sabbath principle."

Holman: We need to get back to the Sabbath principle by having at least one day per week of rest to enjoy what was accomplished throughout the week. This restful way of living should begin to work itself into our daily life when carried out constantly and intentionally.

Imagine you had a day all to yourself, from the time you woke up to the time you went to sleep. What would you do? Think of activities that are not work. Think of things that are totally play. Now whatever it is, plan that day. Turn your phone off and avoid emails! Doing these things is a tiny but groundbreaking step toward slowing down and taking back your life.

Published on: May 4, 2018
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