Magazine article Management Today

Become a Bionic Boss

Magazine article Management Today

Become a Bionic Boss

Article excerpt

Are you fit to run your team? There are more ways to propel your career than collecting management qualifications. Only by toning your body and honing your mind you can you achieve full effectiveness and alertness at work.

If you're old (and sad) enough to remember what is meant by a 'Bionic Man', the chances are you don't quite fit the description these days. The over-35s will remember chisel-jawed pilot Steve Austin. 'The Six Million Dollar Man', who was rebuilt by scientists after suffering debilitating injuries, having momentarily taken his eye off the artificial horizon. His newly created bionic powers included superhuman strength, cheetah-like speed over the ground and even an ability to see through walls. Just think how handy that trio of skills might prove in the office.

But most of us poor mortals struggle simply to stay human at work, never mind achieve superhuman fitness. Business culture hasn't helped -- until fairly recently, the relationship between work and fitness went no further than networking by the 18th hole. Occupational health was a middle-aged nurse sitting in the basement with a set of dusty scales, waiting to hand cut the Elasteplast and iodine to traumatised paper-cut victims.

Such attitudes were reflected by even the most progressive thinkers - when management guru extraordinaire Tom Peters went In Search of Excellence in the 1980s, he didn't find it in the gym. 'It's just another case of American businessmen focusing on the wrong thing,' he said of the suggestion that a person's fitness could affect their performance at work.

Things have changed. Detailed health questionnaires often form part of the staff selection process, corporate gym membership, private medical insurance and even personal coaches are included in the executive package. Even the reluctant Peters has changed his tune. After being called a 'walking heart attack' by a concerned audience member at one of his sessions, he now power walks and urges executives to consider their health and fitness.

More and more companies are wising up to the idea that the health of their employees is not just a personal issue but a business one. A fit employee is a productive employee. And think how handy it would be for the HR department to have the full genome of genetic data when vetting new employees.

But your wellbeing isn't entirely dependent on the genes you inherit from your parents - you can do something about the health of your whole physical and mental self. And you'll have to in the years to come if you want to compete on the top rungs of the corporate ladder. This holistic view is a return to where we all started. The division of mind and body is a modern belief. Ancient cultures embraced the principle mens sana in corpore sane - a healthy mind in a healthy body.

One business that has become more holistic in recent years is professional sport. Besides physical prowess, an athlete's psychological and social wellbeing can provide that vital competitive edge. One man who thinks this applies just as well to top corporate performers is Clive Pinder, MD of 'wellbeing management' company Vielife Consulting - a London firm whose founder's early speciality was to hone the fitness of racing drivers. 'Like the Formula One driver, the CEO is the core of his team: Schumacher has a bad day? - Ferrari has a bad day; Niall Fitzgerald has a bad day? - Unilever has a bad day. Likewise, Fitzgerald's awareness of his own health trickles down through his organisation.'

Vielife's goal is to keep those bad days to a minimum. The company's deluxe One-on-One service offers senior executives year-round health monitoring from specialists, including a doctor, an osteopath, a sleep specialist and a nutritionist. A personal lifestyle strategist then formulates a health plan for you, including weekly support and regular follow-ups to make sure you aren't slacking. They can even tailor your plan so that peak performance levels coincide with that vital pitch meeting or big City presentation. …

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