Is Fitness a Leadership Competency?

As a yogi, I believe in the connection between body, mind and spirit. I also know that my fitness routine is a vital aspect of who I am as a leader. For me, time spent on fitness is time to think, to clear my head and to become mentally and physically stronger. When I am exercising more and eating right, I feel better.

I lead better.

Would I go as far to say that fitness is a leadership competency?

I have been reluctant to write directly about this question.


Because I also see great leaders for whom this regimen does not seem necessary. Different leaders with different bodies, dispositions, ways of managing stress and processing techniques seem to be doing just fine–great actually.

And so, I share my recent thinking and writing to start the conversation. I invite your thinking and ask you to share your opinion.

Leader Athletes: Training For the Long Run (this week’s post on Lead Change Group). I am grateful to all the wonderful leader athletes who read, retweeted and offered their insights via their comments. I also amazed by the distances some of these leaders have gone in their athletic and leadership lives. It’s worth reading through the comments. I am also delighted with the support and friendship I am finding through The Lead Change Group. I am finding many kindred spirits.

Road Warrior Wisdom: 3 Ways to Health and Fitness on the Road (A recent post on 3 Plus International). A great group of women leaders mentoring and supporting one another.

And then I invite your thoughts on any of the following questions or other comments.

  • Do some need it more than others?
  • Is it important for you?
  • Why?

Please let me know your thoughts.

Posted in Employee Engagement & Energy and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. Karin,

    This is a really interesting question. My initial response seems similar to yours. I think it can be considered a leadership competency, but I don’t think you have to be into fitness to be an effective leader.

    Or perhaps I should say, I think fitness can help people become even better leaders even though they may already be an effective leader.

    I usually go to the gym five times per week. I don’t think everybody needs to exercise this much, but it’s what works for me. Here are some of the benefits I get from it:

    *Feel much better (I usually take Fridays and Saturdays off and I’ve noticed I start to get grumpy on Sunday until I exercise)

    *Think more clearly

    *Can focus on things longer

    *More patient

    *More positive

    *More confident in myself

    *More “centered” (fewer highs and lows)

    *More relaxed

    Furthermore, I recently started to focus on eating a lot better after a couple of relatives suggested that I watch the DVD Forks Over Knives. I’m now eating a lot more healthy foods like fruits and vegetables than I was before. And I’ve noticed I’m feeling even better.

    I feel like exercising and eating well makes me a much better version of myself.

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