What are the similarities between Pilates and Great Leadership?

I woke up at about 4 a.m on 27 April. It was Freedom Day in South Africa. A day to remember a truly great leader, Nelson Mandela whose endearing legacy lives on. Every now and then when time allows it, I enjoy contemplating life, personal vision and purpose and how I fit into the greater picture. It was time to think about exercise and I realised how Pilates and Great Leadership have something in common.

I’ve been a gym bunny all my life, even had that famous six-pack tummy. In September last year I started training using the Pilates techniques. After several months of strengthening my inner-core I noticed a dramatic improvement in my balance, strength and muscle tone. I discovered, after years of doing the same exercise, that Pilates strengthens the inner-core and is far more beneficial for the body. Pilates, I am told by my coach, ensures that you concentrate on the body as an integrated whole. My Pilates coach quietly tweaks my movements to ensure that my inner-core is connected for maximum strength and benefit.

Pilates can be related to Great Leadership. Not just good leadership. Your inner-core being your character traits and your value system have a direct bearing on your outer-core. The outer-core being your core competencies and skills displayed in the work environment. John Mattone, the Great Leadership Guru, states and reflects that there is a predictive relationship between the inner-core and the outer-core leadership competencies in his Wheel of Intelligent Leadership. A leadership competency model that is unique, that reflects current implications of the leader, as well as providing clear direction on how to tweak and shape great potential. These leadership competencies such as critical thinking, strategic thinking, a drive to succeed, emotional intelligence and creating a phenomenal team culture ultimately creates effectiveness and success in an organisation.

If you, as a leader, have done the same thing year after year, then expect your results to diminish. A highly effective and mature leader does not take anything or anyone for granted. A highly effective and mature leader knows that hard work, perseverance, continuous learning and consistency is just one variable in a formula for success. Great leaders are modest and humble and know without a shadow of a doubt that what created success in their past, will not guarantee success into the future. In our current political and economic climate, and with the use of technology, the world is watching and will no longer tolerate wastage, greed, and unethical behaviour.

Managers and executives have heard all about best practices. They have degrees and certifications in best practices whether that is in Business Management, Leadership or Portfolio Management, for example. Most of these best practices have been around since the 1940s or at least since the 1980s. Managers get to hear and see the same old, same old! Yet, they page through this stuff and don’t take action. This inability to implement what is right, what is best practice, is due to an immature inner-core. An immature inner-core prevents leaders from having the ability to think critically, to make the right decisions, to drive for success and to implement transformation in the work environment.

Just imagine the opportunities. Imagine converting these holistic challenges into society’s opportunities where there will be abundance for all. Imagine the amount of investment savings. Just imagine the resource capacity creation.

Great Leaders never take anything for granted. Great leaders are optimistic creatures by nature, are courageous and honest and loyal to their family, friends, colleagues and stakeholders. Great leaders have humility and can turn stressful challenges into opportunities. Dare I say that based on my 32 years of experience in South Africa, we are in urgent, dire need of Great Leaders. The evidence that I am witness to daily makes me passionate and creates a desire to ignite change in leadership, positive change that will transform our working environments.

I dare you to try something different. I dare you to have the courage and the modesty. I dare you to look at your nine inner-core character traits that define your nine strategic and tactical leadership competencies and skills. I dare you to make that positive journey with me, as your Intelligent Leadership Coach.

It took Nelson Mandela decades to free his countrymen. He had courage, diligence, humility, modesty, gratitude and loyalty. I would love to take this journey with you and see all of us in South African reap the benefits of great leadership. Let this be the beginning of our next journey to freedom.

So what are the similarities been Pilates and Great Leaders? A conscious effort to strengthen the inner-core in order to improve and strengthen the outer-core.

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