Fit to Lead: You Don’t Have to be a Boss to be a Leader

Fit to Lead is a weekly series sharing the leadership lessons that I learned from getting fit.

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, I have recently gone through a significant personal transformation. I attribute much of my success to my decision to leverage my years of project management and continuous improvement to accomplish my goal.

Throughout my transformation I learned that there are many important parallels between getting fit and becoming a good leader. There are also lessons that I have learned about fitness from being a good leader. In short there are significant synergies between fitness and leadership.

Fit to Lead is part of my quest to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

You don’t have to be a boss to be a leader!

“I’m not a leader, I am nobody’s boss…”

This is an actual quote that somebody said to me recently. That’s when I was reminded of a moment in my fitness journey that sticks with me to this day.

Far into my journey to lose weight and get fit I visited my doctor for a routine checkup on my progress. We talked about a number of things and then I asked him a question that was on my mind. I was interested in figuring out how much protein I should be consuming each day. I kept finding conflicting information and had significantly ramped up my running and weight lifting and wanted to make sure I was being as healthy as possible.

My doctor was right on top of things and consulted his reference materials to find the right answer to my question. That is when he said the sentence that stuck with me.

“For you we need to look up the protein intake target for athletes…”

What?! I am not an athlete! I don’t compete or train for competitions.

My doctor reminded me that being considered an “athlete” has nothing to do with being competitive. It is about behavior and performance and I was doing both at an athlete level and needed to think of my nutrition accordingly. It was only in my head that I wasn’t an athlete.

Leadership is very similar. It is about action, behavior and performance and is not about a specific status or position. If you are actively helping to influence people to be the best versions of themselves you are a leader. If you are helping your team achieve their best possible results together you are a leader. I you are helping people continually grow you are a leader.

Just like you don’t have to be an elite competitor to be an athlete, you don’t have to be a boss to be a leader. Step up, take action, behave as a leader

Not sure where to start? Start by thinking like a leader. Always focus on how you can accomplish the best result by influencing everybody to use their talents for the benefit of the team. At the same time focus on how to help each member of the team

Thanks so much for reading this week’s Fit to Lead article. I sincerely hope that you can apply some of these ideas to your own leadership journey starting today. By working to improve our leadership together we can help build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.