The Healthy Leader

by Brad Modrich

There are two things that I absolutely love. Health & Leadership. I started out in the health club industry as a certified personal trainer over 20 years ago. Then over time, I became an executive for a national health club chain and oversaw up to 25 full-service health clubs. So, it’s safe to say that I am extremely knowledgeable and passionate about these two topics and, more importantly, would like you to understand how they both work synergistically together.

Being healthy should be a priority to everyone, not just leaders. However, I’ve seen leaders struggle with health time and time again.

Because of their busy work schedules, leaders frequently fail to take care of their health. Their focus has been on taking care of business and running it successfully. This leaves little time to look at their health.

And yet being healthy is crucial to being a great leader. Your health impacts all areas of your life. Unhealthy lifestyle choices bring down the quality of your life and hurts your ability to lead.

When you’re unhealthy, there is a ripple effect of things that will affect your ability to lead in a negative way. You might lack the energy to get through the day. Your mental clarity becomes clouded, and you struggle to focus on critical tasks. The length of your life could be shortened. This will impact your ability to leave a lasting legacy. Those you lead may not be willing to follow you because you have been unable to take care of yourself.

These are but a few of the effects of being unhealthy. Being unhealthy simply makes it a struggle to get the job done at an optimum level.
Leaders are especially vulnerable to stress. Often leaders put others first and sacrifice their own wellbeing in the process. That’s not a recipe for long-term success and often results in failure.

Leadership is fundamentally about being able to set a vision and persist over the long run as you lead yourself and others to take on big challenges and work toward the finish line, so it seems like making health a priority would be a no-brainer, right? I mean, it’s pretty obvious that taking care of ourselves affects our energy levels and stamina in the long run.

However, in my 20 plus years of being in the health club industry, this is the one aspect of personal excellence that so many leaders are most likely to struggle with—and this is true across industries, types of organizations, and roles. As the work piles up, self-care often takes a back seat to other more “pressing” priorities, which almost never leads to good outcomes in the long run.

More often than not, leaders who don’t prioritize their health either become unbearable to work with because they’re dehydrated, or tired, or stressed, or “hangry”—or they start to get sick. I’ve worked with people who’ve developed diabetes, pre-diabetes, and even heart disease because they’ve put work ahead of their health. I’ve also known people who’ve gained or lost too much weight because of work and even someone who eventually had an aneurism. I’m not saying that there weren’t other factors that played a role in some of these cases, but all of these examples are of people who put work ahead of self-care, and I think they (and their teams and organizations) suffered for it.

After seeing this pattern of behavior and outcomes over and over again, it became clear to me that managing your health is a key component of being an effective human being and a successful leader.

Leadership today requires a 24/7 commitment, which requires a great deal of physical stamina and energy. It also calls for more: An understanding of the intricate relationship between mind and body and how they work together. To keep going, you need a smart, tailored health and wellness program that allows you to maintain your stamina and lead a balanced life.

I hope I was able to connect the dots on the importance of a leader’s health and the direct connection of their ability to be an effective leader.
Leadership is influence. So, influence yourself to take action and start living a healthy life, so you can have a greater impact as a leader.

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