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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.

"Exercise increases social interaction and a business, like a sport, is a team setting where a group of people work together towards a common goal," he says.

"One of the keys areas I have focussed on has been in developing teams who value and respect each other and know what each person brings as a skill set to play the game.

"People working together towards a common goal provide the essential ingredients for a strong business culture, which includes increased morale and increased productivity.

"Our staff engagement factor went from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in less than one year and productivity shot through the roof."

He says it's important to remember, however, that exercise doesn't change what is required to complete a job or work related task but it does allow the ability to deal with these tasks and perform them more efficiently and effectively.

"Exercise has the potential to drastically affect your business in the most positive and favourable ways and corporate health is becoming more and more accepted as an integral part of maximising business success."

Sylvester recalls a time he helped saved the organisation money simply by looking at the sick leave programme.

He had introduced a health and wellness programme for a three-month trial period, but it was extended for a year. The overall reduction in sick leave was over 41 per cent in the first year, he states.

"That was a reduction of 324 sick days, which was rather significant for a small to medium sized business unit. Prior to the health and wellness trial, much of the sick leave was taken or deemed as extra 'annual leave' days," he states.

He explains how he did it: "We used-to-date visual management to show running sick leave totals which were displayed in staff rooms and key work areas. Staff could clearly see the impact sick leave had on the business and helped them understand that if one person was away on sick leave the business had to pay for them to be away sick but also had to pay someone else to come in and do their job due to the nature of the job.

"That's a double whammy to the business and in a local government context to the rate payer. During the three-month trial period we only experienced one day sick leave. So if anyone asks me what's the return on investment? Well, there's one already."

For organisations aiming to integrate fitness and wellbeing programmes into the workplace, he says the first step is this: "Meet with the staff and discuss the opportunities and goals together with them in terms of looking to provide a healthier workforce."


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