The Executive and the Athlete:
When considering trends over the past 20 years, it is clear that the business world has undergone anumber of significant changes and we recognise that these changes are adding to the levels of stressexecutives are subjected to. Our experience in helping others manage stress, indicates that the twopopulations that suffer most from the negative effects of higher performance demands are EliteAthletes and Executives. The issues of stress and performance between athletic and executiveperformance are quite similar, yet sport, given its ease of comparison and measurement, hasreceived the vast majority of the research and attention. Executive performance management cangain much from those advances in athletic performance.Of the various components, the most significant we have found in training athletes and executiveshas been in the area of effective recovery, both physiologically and mentally. By applying many of the same principles we utilize to help Elite Athletes build mental and physical toughness, to recoveroptimally
and to maximize their time in the “performance zone”
, we are able to help
efficiently recover, prevent burnout and perform at consistently higher levels. Failure toadequately recover leads to increasing levels of stress and higher risks of serious mental and
physical ailments. Yet as work hours continue to increase, recovery in the form of “work
balance” has never been more important to executives: In Australia, t
he Mt. Elisa Leadership Index
of 2005 ranked „work
life balance‟ a
s the number 2 issue facing Australian managers today.Australian executives are far from alone.Another component that sport models well is in the area of change. Conditions for athletes arealways changing and managing their response will determine how well or how poorly they perform.
Similarly, to perform well in today‟s more uncertain business climate
, organizations will berequired to evolve rapidly. And for organizations to evolve, so must the executives within them,and do so without sacrificing their mental and physical health. By learning how to apply strategiesthat aid athletes to manage internal change and evolve their performance,
canalso improve their fundamental capacity to navigate and excel in constant change and increaseddemands.Whether it be inadequate recovery or inadequate change, improperly managed stress has a strongcorrelation to declining cognitive performance and physical health. The resulting executivedisengagement, absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover significantly impacts individual andorganizational performance. As with treatment for medical illnesses and sports performance, stressmanagement is more effective, cheaper and less painful when prevented.
Extensive research over the past decade has clearly shown that stress, obesity, employeedisengagement and poor health come at a high cost for organizations. The most impactful, and attimes most insidious, are the costs associated with employee stress. The causes of stress are manyand the impacts are widely unacknowledged.