There’s no little irony that it has taken a technological gizmo to provoke business leaders to get off their corporate bums and engage in that lowest tech of activities – the humble walk. It all started with the Fitbit - a watch-like device that measures the number of steps taken by its wearer each day. ‘Peak Fitbit’ occurred in 2017. Today there are more advanced wearables that measure steps, heart rate and even brainwaves - but steps are still the base currency. The phenomenon has infected workplaces, with co-workers competing to win the stepping war.
This is also part of the increasing awareness that we need to adopt a more holistic approach to equipping ourselves to perform consistently well in a 24/7 world. There are some interesting behavioural principles behind the trend.
Like most business gadgets, the Fitbit and it’s ilk of smart wearables is destined for landfill. For now though, it provides a simple metric of activity and reaffirms the old mantra that “what gets measured gets done”.
Wearers set a daily step target, encouraging them to change their behaviour. That may mean taking the stairs rather than the lift, or treating the dog to an evening stroll to hit the daily number.
Whilst some alpha execs doubtless see step-count as yet another way to demonstrate their superiority, for most workers, it’s the playful nature of comparing results that encourages them to stay in the step game. There’s a clear sense of progression – one of our key human motivators – and we know it’s also good for us.
Meetings get re-booted
Perhaps the biggest benefit of the step craze is the way it is encouraging some leaders to re-evaluate the way they operate. Meetings do nothing for the step-count, meaning there is more incentive to keep them short. Even better, meetings on the run (walk?) are happening. The walk ’n talks that used to occur only in TV dramas (remember the West Wing), with 3 or 4 people striding purposefully around a building resolving geo-politics, sales strategy or the footy comp are now taking place in the real world.
Walking’s good for culture too
Some businesses run step-based competitions across disciplines and even between different locations. As a result, they are seeing new connections and conversations taking place. Step-count is the universal language crossing all boundaries!
I recently ran a Leading Change masterclass and met Bill, a senior technical leader in a large power distribution company. We spent a lot of time talking about the challenges facing the business. One of these was the gap between the predominantly older and male engineering departments and the younger IT team. Bill shared that he is a keen walker. He started walking ten years ago to lose weight, and grew to love the benefits. He also treks in the local mountains at the weekends. He mentioned this to some of the IT guys and 3 of them asked to come along. They had a great time and were also able to start to brainstorm some ways they could work together. News got out and Bill has a list of 15 or so lined up for his next trek. It’s a lovely example of how inter-generational barriers CAN be breached in often surprising ways.
Walking the talk?
If the ‘step’ or ‘active’ meeting trend has not taken off in your world, maybe it’s time to give it a go. I love that anyone in your business can introduce the idea. It’s accessible to all, breaks down barriers, encourages us to challenge outdated business paradigms (like long meetings) and is good for our heart and our sole!!!
Work with Mark
Since 2010 Mark Hodgson has been successfully helping executives, coaches and consultants to build confidence, gain clarity in their message and position themselves as influential thought leaders who people want to work with.
He is the author of Time To Shine - Adapting who you are and what you know to succeed i... and a leading thinker and speaker on adapting our personal leadership to succeed in a volatile world. To book Mark as a speaker for your next event contact him here.
If you want to know more about working with Mark to activate this thinking in your world, check out the following options:
Time To Shine – Leader Workshop -> 1-day in-house programme for teams
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Time To Shine - Personal Mentoring Programme -> For organisational leaders, independent consultants, coaches and entrepreneurs.
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