What Leaders Can Learn From Runners

RunningDr. JoAnn Dahlkoetter has identified what she calls the “seven traits of mentally tough runners,” which are a series of mental attributes that allow runners to push past mental and physical distractions during runs. These traits are resilience, focus, strength, preparation, vision, openness and trust. Runners who have these traits are able to succeed far more often than those without, and they can teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and the ways we approach our jobs. Those of us employed in leadership positions can especially benefit from the “mentally tough runner” mindset – here’s how:

  1. Resilience: You’re at the helm, and you need to be able to deal with any problem that comes your way. As a resilient leader, you’ll be able to bounce back from any tricky situations, and show your staff in the process how to conquer difficult scenarios with grace and ease.
  2. Focus: Believe it or not, having the ability to focus can help you save your company money. If you understand what needs to be done, and are able to do exactly that without wasting time, you’re saving your company tons of money through productivity.  Focus is also important when it comes to your vision (#5 on this list) – you’ll need unwavering focus in order to follow your vision and achieve your goals.
  3. Strength: You have to know when to say no, and you have to be able to say no. You have to be able to fight through hard days. Being strong – physically and mentally – is an essential trait of a good leader.
  4. Preparation: If you show up to a meeting with nothing prepared, you have missed out on an opportunity. Preparation is an important tool for gaining respect from those around you. Your peers and staff will admire you for being so “on top of things,” and your superiors will take notice of your advance preparation.
  5. Vision: Know where you want your team to go! Have goals and dreams! Whether your goals are team-oriented or personal, they will help you (and possibly your team) gain momentum and keep driving you forward.
  6. Openness: Be transparent with your staff. If something is not going the way you expected, tell them. If you are not happy with their work, let them know. If you want to change their focus or the direction a project is headed, be open about it. Transparency is key for leaders: those who follow you want to know what’s up, and you need to tell them. Otherwise, if they feel you are trying to hide something from them, they may lose respect for you.
  7. Trust: Believe in your staff, and know that they will use your training to succeed. There are two parts to trust in the workplace: trust that you did an excellent job training your staff, and trust that they will do what is expected of them.

Thank you to the Michigan State University Broad College Of Business for providing this guest blog post. 

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