5 Tips to Help You Become A Strong Leader

Strong Leader Woman Cropped

Leading is not for wimps! It you want to be a strong leader that’s up for the challenge, you must be intentionally work out your leadership muscles.

Working out is something I truly enjoy. I know! Most people don’t get the same thrill out of it that I do. When I was at my worst dealing with Lyme disease, I continued making the effort to work out even though most days it was a calming yoga video rather than rigorously training for a 5K or marathon.

Now that I am more myself again, I appreciate being able to resume the many forms of exercise I enjoy – walking, circuit training, HIT, Pilates, weights, kickboxing – really anything that gets my heart revving and my muscles working. After working out, my mind is always clearer, I feel stronger, and I have more energy!

A few years back, I had a frightening and slightly hilarious moment in the middle of a challenging Pilates band workout. While lying flat on my back, legs and arms outstretched with the middle of the band around the arches of my feet and the ends tightly in my hands, the band suddenly exploded into two pieces and shoot towards my face like a rubber band.  Needless to say, I was quite shocked and shrieked accordingly!

Turns out most exercise bands are made from petroleum-based materials and over time are unable to sustain the kind of tension I was applying.

The Value of Tension

Tension is an amazing strength-building aid. However, when there is not enough tension you won’t grow. Too much tension is dangerous – I know first-hand! I was just a few inches from losing an eye that day!

I’ve tossed my “weak” bands, but my husband is a huge fan of his work out bands. He recently purchased an X3 System that uses crazy strong bands made out of layered latex that are designed to handle over 500 pounds of force.

Plus, the X3 System has some pretty nifty features. For work out equipment, it’s compact. In fact, so compact that my husband has been taking it with him when he travels. A full work out only takes about 10 minutes – that’s efficient! And it creates a deeper level of fatigue which is necessary to build muscle. As long as you bring the discipline, the X3 will get you results!

Why am I telling you all about the X3 System? Well, the X3 system provides a nice little picture of how to build muscle – your leadership muscles.

In college, I was one of just a couple of women who regularly worked out in the weight room. Lifting weights was something I took very seriously in that season of my life. During that time, I witnessed some pretty interesting “methods”.

There were guys who religiously worked their arms, but neglected their legs, making them look like flamingos! And this was long before skinny jeans for men were fashionable!

Some guys spent hours and hours in the gym, but accomplished very little.

Others lacked proper form and probably did more damage than good!

Unproductive habits in the gym, using the X3 System, or any other method of working out won’t lead to the best results.

If want to be a strong leader, you have to intentionally develop your leadership muscles by…

Developing Key Areas

Becoming a well-rounded leader doesn’t just happen. It takes work!

When leaders neglect improving in key areas like communication, casting vision, cultivating trust, prioritizing, managing their time, practicing self-care, dealing with conflict, etc., they look as out of balance as the guys in the gym who skipped working their legs.

No one sets out to be a flamingo-like leader! However, knowing what to work on is not always obvious. That’s why asking for feedback and working with a coach are both effective ways to identify key areas that need some attention.

Watching Your Form

Whether you are using an X3 System, free weights, or Nautilus, your form matters! The lack of proper form is a recipe for injury.

What’s proper form? It’s executing exercises correctly so that your muscles get the maximum benefit. When you skip warming up, position your body incorrectly, throw the weights, relying on momentum rather than strength, rush through the exercises, or don’t breathe, you just might do more harm than good!

Leaders may have the best of intentions, but in reality, may be having a diminishing effect on those they lead all because they lack proper form. Ultimately that doesn’t do anyone any favors!

As a leader, your form matters! Here are some examples of counterproductive, “bad form” that leaders often engage in.

Working Less!

The beauty of the X3 System is that it only takes 10 minutes and gets results!

Now, devoting 10 minutes a day is probably NOT going to get you the results you’re after as a leader, but if you start with devoting 10 minutes a day to exercising your leadership muscles, it is a beginning!

The temptation is to work more and more to get it all done, yet working excessively is counterproductive. It’s a well-known fact that to build muscle you have to work hard and rest hard! That’s why you rotate the exercises you do using the X3 System. If you are using free weights, alternating upper body/abs one day with lower body the next day yields the best results. And at least one day a week where you don’t work out at all – just rest!

I know that leading is demanding, but it’s virtually impossible to function at your best for extended periods of time. You would do much better to laser focus your energy in a shorter period of time – like the X3 System does for you! Working fewer hours requires you to prioritize and focus your best on what really matters; work smarter not harder in for a reasonable amount of time! Then rest.

Embracing Tension

Tension is good! It’s what strengthens your muscles and what makes you stronger as a leader. Too little tension leaves you underdeveloped; wimpy. Too much tension has the potential to be detrimental! You need to be challenged, but not wrecked by your role as a leader.

To excel as a leader, you have to experience a certain level of tension to build your leadership muscles. You might call that stress. While stress gets a bad rap, it’s actually makes it possible for you to grow. It’s the way you deal with stress that backfires on you.

When you are experiencing the right amount of stress you will naturally grow your leadership muscles.

Too little stress and your development as a leader will stagnate.

Too much stress and you will experience poor health, lack of sleep, limited decision-making ability, and more that will work against you becoming a strong leader.

Periodically Checking-In & Evaluating…

  • Which of your leadership muscles need exercising?
  • Where do you need to improve your form?
  • How you can work less – with laser focus?
  • How much tension or stress are you currently experiencing as a leader? Is it time to add a bit more tension? Back off the tension? Or is the tension plenty challenging right where it is?
  • What will you do to strengthen your leadership muscles – an action step?

To lead others well, you have to lead yourself well. It starts with you, and trickles down from there.

Don’t let a lack of working out, or working out with inferior equipment like my bands, limit you as a leader.

Make exercising, both physically and professionally, a priority! Both will make you a stronger leader! Who doesn’t want that?

How are you strengthening your leadership muscles?

© Can Stock Photo / peshkov / © Can Stock Photo / lunamarina

Marvae Eikanas

Marvae Eikanas is an author, entrepreneur, ICF certified coach, Career Direct Consultant, DISC consultant, and HBDI practitioner. She helps her coaching clients sharpen their skills, face their fears, eliminate funky mindsets, hone their habits, and cultivate clarity so they can THRIVE personally and professionally. Schedule a consultation with Marvae here.

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