Are You A “Fit” Leader?

In a recent leadership discussion with Dr Darren Green on the Leadership Platform Show on CliffCentral the issue of safeguarding our health was discussed. The fruitful discussion that followed served as a powerful reminder of the need for leader fitness.

I was reminded that leader fitness is about all aspects of fitness: physical, emotional, spiritual and environmental.

In a previous discussion with Gareth Cliff about conversational dynamics, he mentioned that ‘truth tends to jump out in conversations’ if our attitude allows this to happen. This happened during the conversation with Dr Green and our other sharp guests on the show.

Fitness and wastage

For a modern leader to be effective and successful, he or she needs to be able to cope with immense pressures and obligations. Leader fitness is the strength and maturity to cope with situations in the modern environment. It is a ‘must quest’ or the leader will probably fail.

On the one hand, good leadership is about moving situations in a positive direction.

On other hand, poor leadership may be defined as a leader who generates wastage.

Wastage can be defined as the lack of positive movement. A lack of leader fitness is bound to generate wastage. The cost of wastage is not always easy to determine beforehand. We tend to discover wastage in retrospect and this may be a costly price to pay. 

Nobody is perfectly fit

In all our experience in conversations with top performers and leaders in general, we are convinced that there is no such thing as ‘perfect fitness’. We are all human and life tends to bring out our weaknesses on a daily basis.

It is our attitude or mind-set towards growth and positive movement that determines our ability and character to overcome the changes and obstacles in life.

To be leader fit is first of all to have a positive mind-set and the courage to overcome challenges and resistances. Over the years we come across people that are gym fit and are examples of shining good health, yet under pressures they are not necessarily able to cope. Leader fit is not just gym fit.

Pro-active and re-active fitness

Having made the statement that no person is able to be ‘perfectly fit’ at all times, we need to differentiate sharply between the leader who is constantly and passionately on a journey to acquire essences and contextual relevance in life, and the person who is not.

A pro-active mind-set towards leader fitness is a person who is hungry to learn, to be committed to a quest for universal truths and principles and to serve others. Thankfully, we meet many people with that mind-set.

The opposite mind-set towards leader fitness can take many shapes. It may the result of a negative mind-set, a lack of character and a lack of guidance by mentors who have walked the high road. It may be the result of negligence or simply not caring about values and others.

The busy-ness syndrome 

Over the years we at Leadership Platform have spoken to hundreds of top performers in all areas of life.  If we should define a common challenge that most of these leaders face, it is the ‘busy-ness syndrome’.

To be leader fit requires physical , emotional, mental and spiritual ‘check-ups’ in the same way that we should have a regular physical health check-up.

The truth is that leader fitness does not require a half-yearly check-up only, but a daily discipline of fitness exercises. Many of us acknowledge the need for a daily or regular physical fitness routine, but not all of us recognise the dire need of a daily leader fitness routine as well.

Without leader fitness exercising we will not or cannot change our behaviour. We will continue applying the same behavioural models and we will continue making the same mistakes that we may only recognise many years later when we are forced to contemplate our leader fitness performance of the past. What wastage!

The rubbing off of wisdom

We shared with you a while ago the privilege of better listening as a valuable tool to acquiring wisdom.  When we listen with empathy and humility, we tend to recognise truths that ‘jump out at us’ as Gareth Cliff claims. We learn to listen by the quality materials we read, and we listen profitably when we are careful what we watch and identify with in the media.

Our leader fitness believed values

In closing we share with you the universal values statement:

Yesterday’s believed values determine today’s performance.

Today’s believed values determine tomorrow’s performance.

If I want to change my performance tomorrow, I need to change my believed values today’.

Leader fitness is a mind-set that requires constant feeding and check-ups.

For more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation, contact us on




Louis has been fanatically endeavoring to uncover universal leadership principles and models for longer than most of us have been alive. He is an author, leadership expert, father, grandfather, and the Co-Founder of Leadership Platform.

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022

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Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


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