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Fit to lead: What fitness can teach you about leadership

Divina Paredes | May 29, 2015
Louis Sylvester applies the principles he used as a personal trainer to get his clients "fitter, stronger, healthier and generally feel better about themselves" in the enterprise space.


As a personal trainer, Louis Sylvester realised the principles he used for getting his clients "fitter, stronger, healthier and generally feel better about themselves" can be applied in a wider context.

"I thought to myself surely this technique and approach could be totally transferable to any business and I was curious to try it out as I moved into the working environment for local government," says Sylvester, who is now business improvement specialist at the Auckland Council.

Sylvester has worked for the Lims Sports Spectrum in Hamilton and then went onto Les Mills and the YMCA. He also helped train one of the teams for the America's Cup Yachting Syndicate 'Stars & Stripes' in the first campaign, and then the 'One World Challenge' in the second campaign.

He was approached by the Rotorua District Council to work as its aquatic and leisure manager and also served as board member for Water Safety New Zealand. He then attained qualifications as a Kaizen practitioner.

A representative from the Auckland Council who toured his office at Rotorua encouraged him to apply for the newly created business improvement specialist roles.

"Coming from a strong health and fitness background came in rather handy and has been one of the many tools which I have used to capitalise on in terms of contributing towards increased staff engagement," says Sylvester.

"Anyone in management knows that high engagement levels of staff play a significant role in the success of that business or organisation and its culture. It is almost universally accepted that the success of a business is measured in financial terms, so the question has to be asked: How can exercise and corporate health in general increase business success including financial success?"

Technology is certainly playing a great role today in helping corporate people get into shape.

He shares with CIO New Zealand how he applies these insights at work.

"Much research over recent years shows that for every dollar spent by a business on improving the health of their employees, there is a return on that investment of up to six dollars," he says.

"That's a 600 per cent return and that's a very favourable return on any investment."

"Healthy staff are more productive, happier and cost you less. What's more, healthy employees stay with your company...It is a win/win -- win for the staff member and a win for the employer and business."

Exercise assists in the reduction and management of stress, which can be a common condition in any workplace, he says. It also increases energy levels, improves health, quality of life, enhances self-esteem, increases self-confidence and challenges individuals to set goals and achieve them.


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