5 Ways Fitbit Reminds Me About Good Leadership

I remember thinking when the whole Fitbit craze started, I may, or may not, have even made fun of people in my head for wearing them and thinking it was going to somehow make them a better (healthier) person.

“What gets measured gets done.”

Peter Drucker

Well, that all ended several months ago when my daughter got one. (Seeing as how we are running partners, for the first several weeks I would hear, for the entire hour or so of our runs, how much she liked it and how much I, “had to have one!”) Well, it wasn’t long before I succumbed to the peer (daughter) pressure and got my own. I must confess, it didn’t take long before I became a true believer.

In the weeks since, I have noticed that my obsession (um, make that diligence), with monitoring my daily progress has reminded me of some things that we should be doing in other aspects of our life. Then I thought of the applications to leading and running a company or team. So, for those of you that are part of the Fitbit world, and even those who are not, here are some things I’ve been reminded of recently…

1 – “What gets measured gets done.” This old saying by Peter Drucker (and/or possibly others) is oh so true. How many ounces of water have you drunk in the last week? How many steps have you taken? I would not have known either, until I started measuring and keeping track! And I know that I do a better job of both by the mere fact of monitoring it. What is it at your job that you need to start measuring? What do you need to be paying closer attention to? You’ll do a better job at them by just paying closer attention.

2 – Actions (or inaction) have consequences. How many times have you stopped doing something you know you should do for just “a little bit” of time, thinking that there would be no harm? “I’ll just slack off in this area for a few days, it will be no big deal”, you think. Well, sometimes changes – not always good ones – start taking place before you realize it (especially if you’re not paying attention.) This came to light for me, after a minor little knee injury kept me away from running for a couple of weeks. Every couple of days may resting heart rate would inch up a beat per minute. After two weeks it was up five beats. Now, would I be aware of that if I wasn’t measuring it? No way! But you can bet that I’m watching for that number to go back down now that my knee is healed up!

3 – Tracking things keeps you accountable. It may be easy to lose inertia and not make any changes when you don’t know what’s going on. Ignorance does have its blissful characteristics. However, when you know something is going wrong, falling behind or becoming less efficient or productive, you have a greater obligation to fix it. And, when others around you know that you are tracking things and should be aware, you will be held accountable for making the proper course corrections.

4 – Tracking things is motivational. Even if there is just one competitive bone in your body – and if you’re in business there had better be if you want to be successful – you will find motivation in trying to do something better than you did the day/week/month/quarter before. My Fitbit friends would all be able to tell you their one-day best for steps (or stairs or miles). To a person, l know they are motivated to beat that number… and to beat their daily average. (Not to mention the desire to beat their friends in the current challenge!) Some days you have to get your motivation and drive wherever you can. When you have metrics that you’re tracking to compare against, you can find that motivation.

5 – Keep moving! You can only make progress if you keep moving forward. Don’t be stagnant! You can set your Fitbit to remind you if you haven’t moved in awhile. Maybe we need to set something up to remind us if, as a business when we haven’t moved in awhile? Being sedentary and stagnant is not healthy. As a person or a business, when you sit still and don’t move, bad things happen. Illness of some sort will set in. Oh, and the longer you wait to start moving again, the harder it will be!

I can’t say that all of the Fitbit-wearing individuals in our offices are going to make a positive difference to our company just because they wear these cool little accessories. However, I do know the fact that these folks are tuned in and paying attention to their health makes them a lot more likely to understand being tuned in to, and understanding of, the things we are trying to accomplish as a company. Healthy and growing people equate to a healthy and growing company!

~ Bud Sanders

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