What makes a good leader? Look on the internet. There’s a never-ending list of organizations and experts who want to tell you about the seven, 10, 11, 15, 50 or more qualities and skills that good leaders must possess. 

There’s no question that strong leadership is required if your business or organization, or even your family, is to be prepared to make difficult decisions in what is an increasingly complex society.

There’s also little dispute that being healthy and physically fit and active plays a significant role in developing and maintaining those leadership skills.

So let’s get the qualities out of the way – because no matter what list you read there is universal agreement about the top few – honesty, focus, creativity, flexibility, organized, decisive, confident, inspirational, optimistic, results oriented, visionary, strong communication skills, the ability to laugh, persistence, perceptive, team oriented, and the list can go on and on.

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We learn and develop those skills through our life’s experiences – at home, in school, through personal relationships, other training, and our own innate qualities.

We improve and enhance those skills through a healthy lifestyle – exercise, eating for health and energy, organizing our schedules to allow appropriate preparation time, focus, and making sure that we take time for ourselves and build it into our schedules.

“I believe a good leader must maintain mental and physical wellness in order to effectively drive the business forward and inspire the team,” wrote Brett Gleeson in Forbes. “…a fit leader is a better leader.”

Maintaining a regular exercise routine and being physically fit, Gleeson said, gives a leader more energy, increases productivity and the ability to “face the challenges of the day aggressively and confidently.”

A fit leader, he said, has more confidence and is more creative; stays focused and can deal with the tough challenges they face every day; is able to manage stress; and serves as a great example for the entire team.

Countless articles have been written on the direct impact that a healthy and physically fit workforce has on productivity – at work, in an organization, or at home.

At Deloitte’s leadership school in Westlake, Texas, Deloitte University, physical fitness is a major component. The school has a 12,000 square foot state of the art fitness center, and bike, walking and running paths throughout the beautiful campus. Some programs require participants to be in the gym before tackling any other leadership training programs.

But individuals don’t necessarily need to work out in a 12,000 square foot gym. They can find their own level, whether it’s on the tennis court, or in the privacy of a personal fitness studio. Be sure that you choose a program that’s right for you – one that you’ll continue for years to come.

Making fitness and nutrition part of your life will provide you with the foundation to become a better leader, fully equipped to handle complex issues in a complex world.

(Allison Faria, B.S., NSCA, TPI is owner of the Fitness Together Studio in Barrington, RI. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Kinesiology, Allison started working at Fitness Together as an intern, becoming full time in 2010, and eventually buying the studio. For several years, she also served as assistant and head hockey coach for the varsity girls Barrington High School hockey cooperative. Allison can be reached at 401-289-2330 or ftbarrington@fitnesstogether.com)