Why one of the toughest endurance sports known to man can help turn you into a natural leader.
In today’s turbulent offices, effective leadership is essential for success. Executive decisions involve core competencies such as setting a vision, developing strategy, and managing accountability. Great leaders are well-versed in each of these disciplines and know how to seamlessly move between them. But amidst all this stress, they also find relaxation in pushing their limits at triathlons and marathons. For them, fitness moderates stress and increases cognitive performance. The new uniform of the successful leader is running gear — off with casual Fridays. Triathlons are multi-sport events that test you in different ways and have become the executive sport de rigueur. Yashish Dahiya, CEO of Policybazaar, one of India’s leading financial websites, swam 3.86km, cycled 180km and ran 42km in less than 12 hours to complete the Ironman triathlon in Sweden last year.
“In triathlons, one needs to balance your training between three different sports. That’s similar to how executives are able to transit seamlessly between goals, focus and performance. Excelling in each area is key to being a top performer,” he says. Runners and triathletes are famous master planners. In fact, they have to do a great deal of planning throughout the week — splitting energy for three endurance events is no easy task. And training has to be timed and absolutely rigorous. All this is also done around a full career and family life. They also understand that a poorly followed plan never survives its collision with reality. Again, efficiency is key as it’s all about managing scarce physical resources. Strong leaders are skilled at accomplishing their missions by looking out opportunities to test efficiency. Also, running and triathlon is a world full of numbers. It involves the heart, mind, and executing a plan. As a business leader, one has to continuously monitor financial metrics One important quality that builds an endurance athlete is resiliency — the ability to recover from setbacks.
This translates well at the workplace too. Resilience comes with experience and a few setbacks along your leadership path. The best leaders have faced their share of adversities on their way up the corporate ladder — they’ve experienced conflict, they’ve had to make tough choices, they’ve had to balance multiple priorities tasks, and they have sometimes failed. However, that’s what has (hopefully) shaped them into leaders. “The skills and capabilities of endurance athletes are many and most influence work and life. Life’s lessons are all around us, but sport, athletics give the most powerful metaphors. A Triathlon is a way of life with layers and layers of value. There are no limits to what our bodies can achieve. These are qualities which often leaders see in themselves. Leadership is about the future and helping others see a light in themselves that they can’t yet see,” Yashish adds. Which is why a Triathlon can build these leadership skills. Keep learning and enjoy your leadership race! There are experiences to be had that others haven’t felt yet. There is a finish line some may never cross. And this gives you an opportunity to impart some wisdom and inspiration to the others trying to follow a path you have created.
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