In the race to become a great leader, should you train for a marathon or a sprint? The answer is neither, as this a trick question. The right answer is to train for a decathlon. Not the grueling the ten-event Olympic affair, but to train using these same elements of fitness which mirror the ten characteristics vital to success at the office:

  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Endurance
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Speed
  • Stamina
  • Coordination

In your race to excel as a great leader in your career, these are how the lessons learned at the gym will translate into success at work:

Strength, in fitness, is the ability to move an object against resistance in a controlled manner over a moderate duration. For your career, it’s the ability to move an idea forward in a paced, controlled and smooth manner against the resistance of others.

Flexibility, in fitness, is the ability to achieve the maximum range of motion around a specific joint. At work, it’s the ability to stretch your mind, stretch your emotions and stretch your boundaries in order to achieve a maximum result without damaging the connective tissues of your career.

Power, in fitness, is the ability to exert a maximum force in an explosive burst. For your métier, it’s the ability to hunker down and beat unrealistic deadlines by working in focused spurts.

Endurance, in fitness, is the ability to perform an exercise continuously for an extended time without needing rest. At the office, it’s the ability to perform a time-consuming project, like preparing quarterly financial statements, reading a trial transcript or sitting through a long meeting without tiring.

Speed, in fitness, is the ability to accelerate a pattern of movements in order to reduce the time cycle of repeating that movement from start to finish. At the gym, time is muscle. Whatever you and your organization create, productivity is key. The ability to create an ad, conduct a meeting, close a deal, sell a home…whatever…time is money.

Agility, in fitness, is the ability to minimize the time it takes to transition from one pattern of movement to another. In the C-suite, it’s the ability to predict and respond to disruptive paradigm shifts. About seventy percent of all companies in the Fortune 1000 ten years ago are gone today. Could rapid recognition and response have saved Blockbuster, MF Global, Polaroid or Border’s Book?

Balance, in fitness, is the ability to recognize the position of our body in space and maintain a desired position despite the force of gravity. On the job, it’s the ability to find and hold your spiritual center despite competing forces tugging at your time, talents and team.

Stamina, in fitness, is the ability to store and utilize energy so your body can complete disparate activities done in quick succession. In your profession it might be composing ten emails before breakfast, driving to a job site, playing a quick nine holes with a big customer, running home to pick up your children from school, driving an hour to a meeting, returning twenty-two phone calls on your way to an interview with a new hire, having cocktails with a prospect, enjoying dinner with your family and be in bed by ten PM to start the process over again tomorrow.

Coordination, in fitness, is the ability to combine multiple and distinct patterns of movement into a particular and distinct motion done with fluidity. In the world of business, it’s working with IT, Finance, HR and Sales to achieve the goals of increasing revenue, decreasing costs, complying with regulations and delighting stockholders in a way that looks effortless.

The links between human physical performance and organizational performance are profoundly interwoven. In fact resent research indicates that:

Regular exercise correlates with higher leadership ratings in seniorlevel executives, according to a 2006 study, published in the Journal of Managerial Psychology, using both the Executive Success Profile® and the Campbell Leadership IndexTM.

People with good posture earn more than slouchers, as detailed in Harvard Business School’s study Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance, published in Business Insider Feb. 26, 2011.

Salespeople with increased metabolisms drive more sales. Zig Ziglar said it best, “Your extra energy will produce increased revenue for your family.

If you or your organization confronts the strategic challenges of:

  • Increasing revenue generation
  • Preventing peak performer burnout
  • Optimizing human performance
  • Reducing medical expenses

I would be delighted to explore the possibilitiy of helping you push the boundaries of your organization’s performance envelope. By the way, I only listed nine dimensions of performance: What do you think should be the tenth dimension? Yes indeed, what you learn in the gym, you can take to the bank at work. Contact me and I’ll show you how.