Regular Exercise and Leadership

Regular Exercise and Leadership

More often than not, as we progress in our careers one of the key components to continued success (and often higher compensation) is developing the skills to lead and develop others i.e leadership skills. Companies and individuals alike put a tremendous amount of money into leadership training, seminars, and retreats to improve in this area. This is often a very sound investment in that it pays dividends as these individuals progress in their careers and continue to bring value to the organization.

When we think about regular routine exercise we often conjure up images of very fit individuals participating in activities they wholeheartedly enjoy or we picture someone who is not happy with themselves attempting to get back into shape. One of the last things to come to mind is a group of executives sitting in a board meeting weighing in on a strategic decision that will impact the direction of the organization and its thousands of employees. However, this is precisely where regular exercise has one of its most underrated influences on our lives.

In 2015, a group of researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs studied over 600 senior level leaders attempting to understand how regular exercise correlated with scores on two multi-rater leadership instruments the Executive Success Profile (ESP) and Campbell Leadership Index (CLI). They divided the participants into five groups and then subdivided them into “exercisers” and “non-exercisers” based on their current exercise regime.

Group 1: Non- Exercisers

  1. Do not currently exercise and do not intend to in the future.
  2. Do not currently exercise but am thinking about starting to exercise.
  3. Currently exercise, but not regularly.

Group 2: Exercisers

  1. Currently exercise but have been for less than 6 months.
  2. Currently exercise and have been for more than 6 months.

Analysis of the data showed a statistically significant improvement in all categories for both assessments between the exercise and non-exercise groups. A few categories worth noting were visionary thinking, stakeholder success, shaping strategy, attracting talent, global perspective, and leadership. Researchers concluded that “regular exercise is positively correlated with leadership performance” and that “regular exercise may in fact improve leadership performance”.

To put it more plainly,  if we are currently in a leadership position and seek to become better at our jobs or if the next step in our career requires leadership skills, regular vigorous exercise is an essential tenant to achieving this objective. Quite literally, regular exercise makes us better leaders!

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