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The Secret Weapon to Effective Leadership – Are You “Fit to Lead”?

By Jay P. Farrington, CEO / Lead Trainer of Dynamic Leadership Solutions

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Being in a Leadership Position can be one of the most rewarding and most challenging situations we can take on, professionally and personally. But how do we succeed as leaders amongst the emotional and sometimes physical challenges? How do we physically and emotionally get “Fit to Lead”? Because, being “Fit to Lead” is the secret weapon to effective leadership and success.   

According to the Journal of Managerial Psychology, executives who followed a regular fitness regimen were found to be better leaders

First, let discuss the aspect of being “Fit to Lead” and what that means. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, exercise is associated to leadership effectiveness. In fact, leaders who exercise on a regular basis are rated significantly higher by their supervision, co-leaders, and people they supervise compared to those who don’t. Therefore, physical and emotional fitness helps leaders excel when faced with intense situations arise and difficult people.  

Physically Fit leads to Emotionally Fit 

Anyone who has exercised can attest to feeling better overall afterwards. That’s because exercise releases endorphins which lead to positive feelings and a general sense of wellbeing. Therefore, regular exercise has shown to improve overall mood, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, and pessimism. In addition, regular exercise improves positives thoughts, emotional resilience, and self-efficacy. As a result, exercise can help leaders better cope with the stresses and demands of their position, ultimately increasing their leadership effectiveness. Therefore, the exercising leader will stay calm and focused to lead their team to problem solve and be successful. 

Exercise Can Lead To Better Vitality & Reverse Aging 

In addition, regular exercise induces something called angiogenesis which is a sciencey word for creating new blood vessels in the cerebellum, hippocampus, and the motor cortex. Why do you care about this? Well angiogenesis can slow down the aging process mentally and physically. Have you ever met someone and they look 35, but they are really 50? The opposite is true. Have you ever met some you thought was 70, and they were really 45? So, throw away the expensive wrinkle cream and grab your running shoes.  

Eating Healthy Can Actually Make You A More Effective Leader 

I would be remiss if I did not mention diet and nutrition as well. Diet and nutrition are just as important as regular exercise if not the most important. Exercising regularly and eating a health diet will literally change your life for the better. For instance, when eating a healthy diet, it will improve your body image through weight loss, prevent illness, and improve your energy levels throughout the day. Have you ever hit that afternoon crash at 2 or 3pm? A leader who eats a healthy diet fuels their body and is mentally and physically ready all throughout the day. As leaders we need to be on top of our game as soon as we walk into the office or job site because that’s when the crisis seems to happen.  

Making Positive Lifestyle Changes Can Have Positive Results At Home 

As a leader and a person, making positives changes to your diet and nutrition can improve your ability to lead, but did you know it can improve time with your loved ones. When the leader returns home they are more present and energized for their loved ones. So, get your loved ones involved in picking healthy recipes and do meal planning together. If you have children, what a great life lesson to show your children about the value of healthy nutrition associated family bonding. When things are positive at home, the leader is even more energized and effective at work.  

Make a Plan and EXECUTE! 

Making lifestyle changes can be daunting at first, but make little changes to start and then keep going. In leadership and in life, being proactive in your planning is the difference between success and failure. As the saying goes, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.” Exercise and nutrition are no exception. This article is designed to make you think about the concepts and not necessarily give you a detailed exercise and nutrition plan. With that said, let me give a brief example of what I am talking about. 

First having the ability to workout at home will give you the highest probability of staying consistent with any exercise program. People who are new to exercising find going to the local gym daunting and intimidating. Plus, the nation is still dealing with shutdowns everywhere because of COVID-19. Therefore, I suggest finding a workout routine you can do in your garage or living room. For example, there are great on demand fitness companies like Beachbody On Demand or Daily Burn that have hundreds of workouts to accommodate anyone. Plus, it takes the guess work out of planning an exercise routine. So, let’s put everything together in a hypothetical scenario. 

Get The Family Involved In Your Path To Success 

On Sunday night you and the family research healthy meals online together with the right balance of macros (Protein, Carbs, & Fat) for the week. Then, you prepare the meals that will go in containers you take to work for lunch or use for dinner throughout the week. Let’s not forget breakfast. Having a planned out healthy breakfast is just as important in meal planning. You will set your alarm 30-45 minutes earlier in the morning to get in your workout. The best exercise routine will have three days of at least 20-30 minutes of cardio and three days of resistance training with weights or bands. If you are new to exercise, I suggest getting in 10,000 steps a day to start. A tool I suggest is a fitness tracker and meal tracking app like My Fitness Pal or My Daily Diary. Studies have shown that people who track their meals and exercise have a much higher success rate. Now life happens and if you miss a day here and there, no big deal. Just get back on your routine as soon as you can.  

In Conclusion  

I guarantee if you try a variation of what I just described for 7 days, you will notice a significant difference in how you look and feel. In addition, so will your family and the people at work. Just imagine when everyone goes back to work, you could be transformed into your new best self by being fit, happy, and ready to take on any challenges. Studies have shown that a leader who invests in their own health and fitness is more engaged with their own teams. In turn, their teams will take on a similar approach to their own health and fitness. Therefore, a fit leader leads to a fit team which results in a happy and high performing team.   

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