Leaders Aren’t Born, They’re Made With Science

Time to read 4 min

Each one of us has encountered that one magnetic personality that never seems to tire. If we’re lucky, we may have had a chance to observe several of them over time. A typical workday for a leader begins with review meetings, which then give way to client meetings. ON a good day, they’re back in the office and soliving a problem by late noon, so we don’t even want to get into the bad days. 

Is it possible to work twenty hour workdays and still come back, day after day, looking just as fresh and peaceful? 

Leadership qualities can be condensed into three major attributes. 

  • Leaders are decision makers of the highest order. Their decisions are focused, creative and attentive.
  • Leaders have excellent resilience. They remain unfazed in the face of a storm.
  • Leaders process information with a high degree of efficiency, and on time, so that their decisions are well-informed and apt.  

The body and the mind are not two separate components. They are all one functional unit. We often find articles and opinion pieces on how leaders use one technique or another to keep themselves in the zone all the time. 

For example, Barack Obama would never start his day without an early morning workout. Likewise, Narendra Modi begins his day with Yoga and breathing, and Sheryl Sandberg winds her workday up by 5:30 PM every day. 

However, none of these routines of other, admittedly famous, people tell us what we need to do to be productive, nor do they address the ‘how’. Since we are all human beings, there are three specific focus areas for those looking to excel as leaders to work on. 

  • Nutrition
  • Movement & Oxygen flow
  • Recovery 

If these three pillars sound much like an athlete’s drivers, it is because leaders are training just as hard- they’re simply running a different kind of race. The notoriety of sedentariness in today’s corporate lifestyle is very well-known to all of us. It is almost impossible to find a minute to leave the chair and just move around. By focusing on just these three areas, we can come up with a plan that works alongside the busiest of people. 

Nutrition: Several aspects need to be understood here. Nutrition is not just about eating good food, it is about eating in the right intervals and supplementing where necessary. Eating three square meals a day and filling the gaps with a healthy, stimulating snack is the general plan. Depending on specific deficiencies the client may have, we devise a nutrition plan that allows them to get as much benefit as possible from their food. That said, only the most judicious eaters ever get all of their % RDAs tallied and full every single day, so basic supplementation with vitamins that may be necessary is also recommended. For executives working in creative roles, brain-boosting supplements and foods are to be recommended. 

Also note that even a simple lapse such as not being hydrated enough, or eating too much sugar, can cause less than optimum performance at work. Skipping breakfast for a quick snack makes the blood sugar levels spike and fall, causing unexplained fatigue. Eating a well-balanced meal may indeed be one of the keys to a healthy workday.  

Movement and Oxygen Flow: At the very basic of levels, why does exercise help us? The simple answer is that exercise helps in the increased circulation of blood and oxygen in the body. Other aspects such as building muscle, losing fat and feeling healthier are all consequences that come a bit later, but oxygen supply is boosted from the very first exercise session itself. Studies have shown that staying sedentary for long can impair oxygen supply to muscles, leading to the general sense of fatigue we all experience at some point. 

Adequate exercise actually helps build the brain! Exercise stimulates stem cells to generate new nerve cells, and improves alertness. [4] Leaders looking to build a healthy, strong, resilient mind, must begin with the body and shift their focus to an exercise of their choice. 

Recovery: In athletes, recovery almost exclusively refers to the recovery of their muscles. For leaders, recovery is a broader term that reflects the need for rest and rejuvenation for the brain. There are several ways to achieve this, and just like we stretch any muscle, we need to give our brains some time off. Executives working in industrial setups tend to have more accidents when they haven’t rested enough. How do we resolve issues on the rest front? 

By improving our quality of sleep, by getting adequate rest in waking hours and by practicing a calming activity of choice. All of these are integrated with movement and nutrition, meaning that if you starve all day, you’re unlikely to have a very peaceful night’s sleep. 

Component of the workday

Aspects that come into play

A call in the morning to decide on bid strategy

Adequate rest the night before

A review meeting with the team

Nutrition (breakfast that stimulates), adequate rest

Meeting clients across the city, or even the country

Stamina- exercise and food.

Adjusting to a new time zone and rushing off to a meeting in a new country

Exercise as the first activity in the morning (flight crew use it all the time)

Using data to make decisions after a long day

Nutrition and exercise to improve cognition

Heading home and being with family

A healthy snack in the evening (nutrition), rest during the day (can be in the form of quiet time during the day when they just shut off for a bit).

When these three aspects are addressed in tandem, leaders can hope to see some very significant changes in their productivity. 

We devise and use three developmental pillars to support and measure the level of nutrition, activity and recovery period required. They are: 

  • Health Optimization
  • Cognitive Potential
  • Stress Resilience 

A good custom program is centered around helping you achieve optimum health, increase your cognitive potential and improve your elasticity to stressful situations. The approaches listed above such as nutrition, exercise and rest help you achieve these three goals over a period of time, if you follow your program of choice consistently.

*Medical Disclaimer - The following information is for educational purposes only. No information provided on this website, including text, graphic, and images, are intended as substitutes for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about specific medical advice pertaining to your condition(s)

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