The connection between physical fitness and leadership – Smartbrief

(Image credit: Danielle Cerullo/Unsplash)

As we’ve competed in triathlons over the years, we couldn’t help but notice the sense of accomplishment racers showed as they crossed the finish line. In order to get to the finish line, these people applied key leadership skills to accomplish a challenging athletic goal. 

The journey they took to complete a triathlon told us several things:

  • They were driven by a high-level vision and by specific goals.
  • They were strategic and made time for training and recovery.
  • They had support from family, co-workers, and friends to encourage them.
  • They overcame setbacks — whether it was a bad training day, injuries or life circumstances.

We know from our personal experience and research that being physically fit increases mental stamina and endurance which are attributes leaders must possess. Many studies identify the direct correlation between fitness and success. One study example found that physical activity and fitness had a significant effect on executive function (Sports Science Health 2022).

In addition, a person who is physically and mentally well is better suited to face the difficulties that come with a leadership position. Exercising and clearing your mind of stress allows you to tap into your creative side — sparking new ideas and innovative business strategies.

Knowing all these connections could be made, we designed Fit to LeadTM, a program that focuses on core elements that apply to both preparing for a fitness challenge like a triathlon as well as developing leadership capabilities. Here is a quick summary of the five connections we make. 

The 5 Fit to Lead connections 

1. Take inventory of your priorities

The first step is getting intentional with where you focus your attention and time to ultimately get where you want to go. Taking a “snapshot” of where you are now allows you to determine what you want to be doing and how you want to spend your time, energy and talents. By examining the multiple dimensions of your life (e.g., work, fitness, finance, relationships, fun, home environment, etc.) you can begin to assess your progress toward life goals. Getting this “big picture” view of your life enables …….


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