The fat cat may have got the cream, but the fit cat can get the mice.
It has been suggested that, at an executive level – a level of business not normally associated with manual labour and physical prowess, fitter executives are outperforming unfit executives.
This isn’t a case of who is quickest to the coffee machine in the morning, or who can lift the heaviest client portfolio, but the ability to cope with the daily work stresses without excessive fatigue.
It has been assumed, although there was little empirical evidence supporting the idea, that being physically fit improves leadership, and consequently productivity and financial health on a company-wide scale.
An attempt to shed some light on the matter led to a study using the Executive Success Profile and Campbell Leadership Inde. In this, McDowell-Larsen (et al) recorded ratings and leadership scores from colleagues and corporate contacts of each executive/participant. They found that fitness and leadership ratings were positively correlated, i.e. the fitter the executive, the more likely they were to be deemed to be a ‘good leader’.
So are good leaders good because they exercise? Or do they have the time and energy to exercise because they are good leaders? McDowell-Larsen et al don’t have an answer to this, but explain that exercise may act as a diversion from stress, an outlet for physical tension, a mood and self-esteem booster, and as therapeutic relaxation.
They conclude with an interesting observation: often, in the highly demanding lifestyle of a company executive, leaders will give up exercise and sacrifice health “for the sake of the job”.
Is this you?
Seriously, stop it.
Exercise is good for you. And what is good for you is good for your business. And what is good for your business is good for your wallet. Find the level of fitness that makes you feel good, and watch your productivity climb. It might be cycling to work, using the gym in your lunch hour, or even just taking the stairs up to your office.
You can take the man out of the office, but it’s harder to take the office out of the man. Exercise helps. So swap your suit for shorts and sweat out that stress. You’ll find your mind sharper and your mood brighter. You’ll be able to deal with jetlagged meetings, late nights in the office, cross-country drives, and other tests of endurance much better.
And you might even find that you can finally stop worshipping the coffee machine…!
McDowell-Larsen, S., Kearney, L., Campbell, D., (2002). Fitness and leadership: is there a relationship? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 17, 316-324.