Leadership and Fitness

A person who occupies a leadership position is required to be physically fit. This applies to any leadership position, military or civilian.

This goes beyond the standard “lead by example” military philosophy where a leader is supposed to run faster or do more push-ups than those he leads. It also goes beyond looks ( i.e., not being overweight) or passing a PT test.

A leader who is not physically fit runs the risk of not having the capacity to endure the stress of his/her position on top of all the other stress the day brings. The manifestation of such an incapacity is shown when the person exhibits one or more of the following:  abrupt temper, mood swings, constant complaining, indecisiveness, lack of focus, closed-mindedness, and lack of vision. A leader with a bad temper, who constantly complains, etc. is an un-enjoyable person, much less a boss.

Assignment to a leadership position comes not only with the responsibility to lead but to lead well. When a leader is physically unfit, he/she  becomes a liability not only to the organization but also to those he/she leads. It is a matter of ethical behavior because if the leader does not take care of himself, he is, by extension, not taking care of those he has been charged to lead.

Secondly, most leaders, especially those in the military, go on to serve in other leadership capacities after they move on. These leaders have gained much education, experience, and training and can be of more utility to the human race after retirement – in whatever capacity they are in. This is very much evident today for more people now start a second career after their first retirement.

A person who has gained that much after several decades should not abruptly become incapacitated after giving so much of himself.  That is, why work so hard for twenty some odd years and then several months later be unable to physically enjoy retirement?

But the main point I want to reiterate here is the matter of expectations: an expectation of ethical behavior, specifically, fairness to the led. It is unfair to those who are led to not be led well. A leader who does not take care of him/herself runs the risk of not meeting the expectations of subordinates who expect to be led well.

Be ethical in your leadership – stay physically fit.


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