Leadership Fitness

At this year’s SHRM Annual Conference, there was a long list of outstanding leadership speakers with one thought-provoking message after another. One such contributor was an author and Executive Coach by the name of Tim Tobin who discussed “Elevating Your Leadership Game.” He pointed out similarities and parallels between the principles of fitness and the principles of leadership. It was the kind of talk that really made you think — and even jot down an idea or two of your own! In that regard, I highly recommend his book and offer the following:


Fitness: Have you ever found yourself staring down at the number being displayed on your bathroom scale and thought it was either out of order or that someone had somehow climbed on there with you? Or how about the intermittent occasions when you come face to face with pictures of yourself from days gone by and wonder, “Where in the heck has that person gone?!” It’s even better when well-meaning close friends and members of your family wonder (unfortunately out loud) right along with you! These moments in time can provide a motivational “call to action” that winds up reuniting you with the notion that personal fitness is both desirable and doable!

Leadership: Have you ever found yourself in a set of circumstances where (for some strange reason) everybody seemed to be waiting for you to articulate a clear path forward and you had no idea what to say or do? Those situations usually have something to do with change and the unforeseen challenges that ride around on its back unexpectedly leaping off and wreaking havoc (or, at a minimum, disrupting the stability to which those around you had become accustomed). When the initial panic subsides, those moments provide a different kind of call to action. They are the junctures on the journey where leaders can demonstrate true value.

Simplicity and Execution

Fitness: How many times have you had some version of this conversation with someone you know but hadn’t seen in a while:

You: “Wow! You look great! What have you been doing?”

Friend: “Basically eating right … and working out more.”

How many diets are there? How many programs are there to build strength, endurance and flexibility? Short answer? Tons! Understanding how to get in shape is by no means the challenge. Most of us could probably jump into any one of the six million diet or exercise plans that are out there and have our friends saying (“Wow! You look great!”) in two or three months. The challenge (of course) is to stick with whatever regimen we select and make it a way of life.

Leadership: It is much the same with the process of effective influence. It’s not like people longing to learn about leadership are restricted to a handful of available options. There are options all over the place. And, along similar lines, understanding leadership is simple. Finding people with the courage and resiliency to consistently execute what they understand in a real-world setting, over time, is something altogether different!


  1. Identify (and commit to) a workable plan to increase your personal level of fitness
    1. During your workouts, think about your role as a leader (at work, at home, etc.)
      1. Where can you intervene, execute a leadership strategy, etc.?
  2. Identify (and commit to) a workable plan to increase your personal effectiveness as a leader
    1. Consider books to read, programs to attend, leaders from your life to talk with, etc.
      1. Document what you learn and make a conscious effort to implement that learning and monitor your impact/results