3 reasons why the CEO should be the most physically active in the company

By Tom Bosna – Managing Director

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with some of the most inspiring CEO’s and senior leaders in progressive and innovative Australian businesses.

Firstly, the fact that senior leaders and CEO’s are investing time and energy into the wellbeing of their staff is inspiring. More than just a people strategy, it has been so encouraging to see leaders take a real interest in creating a culture that cares and creates healthier individuals.

One of the biggest trend I have noted in my experience is that when the CEO and senior leaders are physically active – they statistically have a more engaged workplace and healthier company profile.

While the benefits of being physically active are pretty clear as mentioned in my previously articles – reduced risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and some forms of cancer. The benefits of having a physically fit and active CEO and senior leadership team are groundbreaking. In practical terms, the ripple effect on the entire organisation are positively linked with great performance and engagement.

So let’s summarise the three key reasons the CEO & senior leaders should be the most physically active in the organisation.

Performance Perks

The organisations that had physically active leaders (they exercised at least five times a week for over 30 mins at moderate exertion) were more satisfied with their own performance as a team. They worked smarter and had reduced rates of absenteeism compared to the less active teams. In my opinion, if the CEO is physically active and is able to discuss the benefits openly in conversation the entire performance of the organisation can thrive.

Physical activity can positively impact physical, social, purpose and psychological pillars of wellbeing. From a performance perspective, active CEO’s enjoy greater performance across the wider group with case studies revealing higher workforce resilience scores compared to inactive CEO cohorts.

Psychological Safety

One of the greatest tasks of the CEO is to create an environment where employees feel psychologically safe. Whilst, the usual focus here is on mental health, I’d like to divert to talk about creating a culture of individual empowerment.

In my dealings, the more physically active CEO’s and senior teams have significantly empowered their teams with the ability to self manage their workload with a focus on flexi-working. In other words, I trust that you will purposefully work towards our vision and your working style’s will be vary and that is OK.

Based on my consulting experience, the physically active CEO create a culture of psychological safety. We have seen this phenomenon in our corporate wellness centres where staff can access our wellness services whilst at work. Whether that be a Yoga class, a Physiotherapy appointment or a skin check – all is encouraged in a safe culture of wellbeing.

Wellbeing champions – the ripple effect

In my consulting work, I have seen CEO’s with teams ranging from small teams of 50 all the through to 5000 who have built physical activity into the culture. In one organisation, the core values were created with wellbeing being a key focus – and the subtext being – ‘be the change you want to see’ – how remarkable is that!

With physical fitness being a key pillar for this organisation, organically the CEO and senior leaders have created a culture of wellbeing champions.

One senior leader reported that in their team a team manager of 300 – organically created a running group for the Melbourne half marathon. The leader noticed his team drinking too much coffee and sitting for too long and was fed up! The team manager had lost a significant amount of weight in the companies group fitness challenge two years prior and had wanted the team to feel the benefits they had experienced themselves.

Creating wellbeing champions is the mecca of all wellbeing strategy and engagement. The CEO’s who are physically active create a ripple effect of influence and it is embedded into the company culture.

The take home!

Physically active CEO’s and leaders are high impact individuals, their teams perform better and they create a legacy of wellbeing champions. Get moving, lead from the front and enjoy the ripple effect.

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