Time is a valuable commodity for any business owner, and for many, the time to exercise is often relegated to the back burner. But could a lack of exercise hamper your leadership effectiveness? Kouhaila Hammer, Chairman and CEO of G-TECH Services, a WBENC-Certified WBE, shares her insights on how her regular exercise routine helped her become a more effective leader for her business.
This #WBEWisdom post is part of a series from members of the Host Committee for the 2018 WBENC National Conference & Business Fair, coming up June 19-21 in Detroit. Read more about the Host Committee, as well as more details from Kouhaila and how she prepares for the event.
Why Fit Leaders Are Effective Leaders
By Kouhaila G. Hammer, Chairman + CEO of G-TECH Services
In my business, no two days are ever the same. Each day brings its own unique set of challenges and frequently deviates from my intended, pre-planned schedule. This unpredictability is one of the things that makes being a business leader so interesting and often exciting – but we all need a balance. That’s why I like to start my morning the same way: I work out in my company’s in-office fitness center.
My morning exercise routine is an important commitment that I make to myself each day. Not only has it improved my overall health and wellness, but it has also made me a much more effective leader for my organization.
1. Boosted Energy
There is a plethora of studies that all conclude that a regular exercise program increases energy while reducing fatigue. Being a business leader is often a demanding position, especially at a growing company – you’re constantly pulled in different directions, juggling a variety of priorities, and regularly making decisions that impact your entire organization. The boosted energy that comes from physical activity better equips you to tackle these challenges with confidence and clarity.
2. Sharper Cognitive Abilities
Scientists have shown that endurance exercise triggers the production of a specific molecule in the brain called irisin that improves cognition and protects the brain against degeneration (this Psychology Today article provides more details). More simply stated, exercise does the brain good. The cognitive benefits of regular physical activity include improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, greater mental stamina, and heightened creativity.
3. Diminished Stress
Exercise is a great way to combat stress, because it pumps up the production of endorphins (the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters). In the words of Mayo Clinic, exercise also serves as “meditation in motion” – it allows your mind to focus on your body’s movements in the moment rather than on the myriad of stressors that may otherwise consume your thoughts. Regular physical activity can even lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety and can help improve your sleep quality.
4. A Wellness-Focused Culture
“Leading by example” is a phrase we hear a lot, but an idea that holds firmly true. As a business leader, I’m very conscious of the impact of my actions and behaviors on the overall culture of my organization. In demonstrating my personal commitment to fitness and championing health-focused initiatives, I’m helping to create a culture that values and encourages employee wellness. Healthy team members are more energetic, mentally sharper, more creative, and less stressed – they’re better equipped to reach their full potential and drive their organizations forward. These benefits enhance team morale while helping to offset rising healthcare costs, making a culture of wellness essential in this day and age. The onus is on us as company leaders to set a positive example for our team members.
The benefits of regular exercise are numerous and extend beyond physical fitness. While I may not always know what a given day will bring, I find that my hour in the gym most mornings gives me the energy and peace of mind I need to take on any challenges that come my way.
About Kouhaila Hammer
Kouhaila (Ki) Hammer is Chairman and CEO of G-TECH Services, a leading WBENC-certified talent solutions firm that serves clients in fast-paced, high-tech industries such as automotive / manufacturing, chemical / petrochemical, energy, engineering, and information technology. An entrepreneur at heart, Ki leads a culture at G-TECH that values innovation, collaboration, and team member empowerment. She is a strong advocate of community involvement and recently served as President of the Engineering Society of Detroit. She currently sits on the boards of the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan and the Rackham Foundation, as well as the Detroit Regional Chamber board and executive committee. She is also a member of the International Women’s Forum and has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit Business three times (most recently in 2016). She holds a Bachelor of Arts in accounting from Michigan State University.