Requirement for CEO: A hot body

HRM 25 Jan 2013

It’s getting more difficult to be a CEO these days. Research even says that they must work out and lose the flab in order to gain respect. Now, what’s a CEO to do?

While their bodies don’t need to rival that of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, a study suggests that leaders have to appear fit and of a healthy BMI in order to prove to others that they have what it takes to do the job.

"Because the demands of leadership can be quite strenuous, the physical aspects are just as important as everything else," says Sharon McDowell-Larsen, an exercise physiologist who runs an executive-fitness programme for the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), in a report by Wall Street Journal.

According to data by CCL, more pudgy executives tend to be perceived as less effective in the workplace, both in performance and interpersonal relationships.

Leadership experts have echoed their agreement on this issue.

Barry Posner, a leadership professor at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, said that a heavy executive is judged to be less capable because of assumptions about how weight affects health and stamina. He added that he can't name a single overweight Fortune 500 CEO. "We have stereotypes about fat, so when we see a senior executive who's overweight, our initial reaction isn't positive," he was quoted as saying.

Also, the CEOs of today are in a much more visible position where they must always be media-ready at all times, while appearing poised and ready to take charge when the going gets tough. Extra pounds can convey weakness or a “lack of control”, according to Amanda Sanders, a New York-based image consultant who has worked with senior executives at Fortune 500 firms.

Now, that’s some food for thought.



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