Leadership Lessons from Fitbit

Over the last several years the Fitbit craze has taken America by storm. On average, one in every four leaders I meet has some type of Fitbit product strapped to their wrist. It’s a healthy addiction for many people. There are few ways to track so many important health statistics (e.g., steps, miles, active minutes, calories burned, stairs climbed, hours slept, etc.) at one time.

I’ve started to discuss the impact of Fitbit devices on the health, wellness, and well-being of many of my clients. Most leaders say that it is a great tool for capturing their walking steps and physical activity throughout the day. Others have commented on some of the features that help them improve their health over the long-term (e.g., types of exercise, calorie and water intake, resting and active heart rate, sleep patterns).

One of the most interesting features involves linking your Fitbit to friends and colleagues and being able to conduct weekly fitness challenges. The Weekend Warrior and Workweek Hustle are two programs that friends can sign-in to and compete for daily and weekly step goals. I’ve found this interesting to witness, and participate in, over the last several months. Not only does it help you to achieve your personal fitness goals, but it creates a fun and exciting way to challenge others to meet their goals as well.

So, in the spirit of the Workweek Hustle and the Weekend Warrior, below are the five lessons any leader can learn from their Fitbit.

  1. Leadership is a Marathon, not a Sprint: In some instances, I’ve run into colleagues that tend to exert all their efforts to beating the competition on Day 1 of a 5-day challenge. They attempt to walk 20-30k in one day and exhaust themselves for the rest of the weekly challenge. In leadership the same lesson applies. You cannot exert all your focus and effort in the short-term at the expense of the long-term. Leadership is about steadiness and endurance. The greatest leaders model consistency by practicing the same behaviors week after week, month after month, year after year.
  2. Leadership takes Focus and Discipline: A Fitbit tracks various health stats. You can measure steps taken, miles ran, stairs climbed, or calories burned. A health conscious stepper focuses on making progress across all the stats. Likewise, in leadership, one has to be disciplined across a multitude of areas to drive long term success and impact. Leaders need to focus on strategy and execution. They need to attend to relationships and inspiration. They need to remain committed and focused on both short-term and long-term objectives. They need to have the courage and endurance to lead in challenging and difficult times. They need wisdom and discernment to learn from mistakes and grow over time. The best leaders are focused and disciplined in how they spend their time.
  3. Leadership takes Balance: Any Fitbit Workweek Hustle or Weekend Warrior challenge involves balance. You have to know when to push yourself and when to take breaks. You need to set stretch goals but not over exert yourself. You need to make sure your diet and calorie intake matches your exercise objectives and calories burned. In leadership there are always competing priorities that need to be balanced effectively. Managing various internal and external stakeholders, deciding between different projects and objectives, and identifying and selecting the best talent all require balance. As a leader you have to ensure you are covering all the critical areas. Focusing on only one area and neglecting others will not lead to long-term success.
  4. Leadership is about Tracking Progress Towards Goals: The Fitbit competitions allow you to track progress towards your fitness goals on a daily basis. Through the use of the Fitbit app, any user can check-in regularly to see how much progress is being made. Likewise, in leadership, progress towards goals needs to be tracked on a consistent basis. You cannot influence and guide the behaviors of others without having a desired outcome worth pursuing, and the methods to track progress against those objectives. The best leaders look to assess how they are doing and ensure progress is being made against their goals and desired outcomes.
  5. Leadership is about Always Striving for the Next Step: Fitbit is a great tool for getting in better physical shape. There is always the next step to take towards improving your health. Leadership is all about striving to be better and do better than you did the day before. We grow as people, and as leaders, by constantly looking to learn and develop from our experiences. When we strive to be our best each day, we see the greatest growth. In leadership, there is always room for improvement.

We can learn a lot about leadership from various areas of life. Health and fitness is just one of these areas. Remember, keep tracking those steps, and keep striving to be the best leader that you can possibly be!

Leadership Matters. Without It, People Fail.