The 4 Horsemen
For many years now people's working lives have been getting longer, the concept of retiring at 65 has become an outdated concept. Many of us love what we do and want to continue working, not quite ready for a pipe and slippers. But as we enter the Autumn and Winter of our lives new risks arise.
With people living longer and retiring later new threats to senior leadership teams emerge. You can be pretty sure that, statistically, one of these will affect someone essential to your business:
- Heart Disease
Executives are a high risk group for diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimers.
When Life and Business Collide. Poor Lifestyles Begin to Pose Real Risks to Business.
Heart disease, cancer, dementia present real risks and, owing to the nature of seniority and experience, senior execs are often in the demographic most likely to suffer from these afflictions. Companies depend on these leaders as the keystone of their business.
How do you think your business will be affected if something like this happens to you or one of your team? Let me tell you because we see it all the time. Maybe you've seen it yourself.
One of our clients had a Director with a cancer diagnosis who was out of the business for 6 months. It cost them 3x that person's salary to get her job done for that 6 month period.
Another of our clients had a senior leader off for a whole year. Imagine how that would impact your business. Think about the impact, not just on the individual of being out of the loop and unwell, or in recovery, for such a long time, but also on the other senior execs who undoubtedly end up carrying the role in their absence.
What would the costs be to you? Financially and operationally. The last thing we want to do is scaremonger but these threats are very real. According to Macmillan Cancer Support More than 1 in 3 people in the UK will get cancer during their lives.
Our bodies are not used to the impact of chronic stress on. Business leaders often expect their team to be able to work Monday to Friday 5am - midnight without any negative impact. But this is not the case. In the old days, lack of smart tech meant that execs got real downtime midweek, that’s just not the case anymore.
How do we deal with these new threats? How do we turn these weaknesses into strengths? How do we turn threats into opportunities?
The ULP asks and answers 1 question; Why treat the symptoms when you can prevent the disease in the first place? Why have a crisis plan when you can avoid a crisis entirely? Ok that's 2 questions, but really they're the same question.
The idea of the ULP is to completely turn the tables on something many regard as inevitable - weight gain, stress, lack of sleep, health problems. I mentioned the statistics earlier but there is no need to be a passive bystander and watch these things happen; 8 of 10 cancers are lifestyle related, staying mentally and physically active is known to prevent dementia, sleep is more powerful a healer than we knew. These aren't things that just happen to people. Quite often they're things that people do to themselves, or maybe more correctly allow to happen. Many people say to us, ‘I just couldn’t get everything done if I went to bed earlier.’ We look at all aspects of your life and find ways in which what you believe to be impossible can, with support, be achieved relatively quickly. People live in the belief that their lifestyle the price they pay for their position in life but this doesn’t have to be the case, as we have proved with many people.
Turning the Tables
The way to eliminate these threats and weaknesses also has the happy side effect of providing huge strengths and opportunities for your company.
Imagine not only ensuring the continuity of your leadership team but raising their performance to unprecedented levels. How would your results be affected if all your Execs had unlimited energy, incredible focus and determination? If, when your execs were away the team ran seamlessly without them?
Improving a person's physical fitness and mental resilience makes them a better leader. They have more energy, more enthusiasm and more endurance. All these things will enable your senior execs to take their leadership to another level, gaining control over their lives, delegating and building a team around them that supports them to drive your business forward rather than drowning in its current position.
Imagine how much people would admire, respect and look up to your leaders and your company if your execs could not only perfect their leadership skills but get fit, look great and have a mental toughness that few ever achieve.
These are all things that stem from improving physical fitness and mental resilience. It not only helps to prevent dire consequences it actively adds a superior level of performance to a company that is rarely seen.
The Secret Formula
If you've taken part in any of our programmes you'll know that Quarterdeck has a big focus on becoming an all round better person. That’s why we concentrate on your home life as much as your work life. At the end of the day you’re one person with one personality and the secret to being a better leader is to simply be a better human being.
The ULP is a natural extension of that philosophy. We’ve taken what makes our ILP great and added guest trainers who will concentrate on physical and mental fitness. Changing your body and changing your mindset. This is all wrapped up in a 7 month program designed using cutting edge psychology and used to develop habits that will propel your execs to another level.
Better leadership, physical fitness and mental resilience are the only antidote to these new threats. To overcome inherent human frailties we need to work on very human aspects of strength. Improving in all 3 areas will create a positive feedback loop that will help you achieve results that simply aren’t possible when improving in 1 area alone. How tired we are affects our ability to make rational decisions, how mentally resilient we are affects how well we sleep, how good we are at building our team affects our workload and our ability to get the important things done rather than just those most urgent. All these areas feed in to one another.
Like all our other programmes the ULP is designed for lasting change. This isn't your typical 2 day workshop. There are a total of 14 sessions, the first 4 occurring weekly. Then increasing to fortnightly, three-weekly and monthly, with a refresher session 3 months after the official ‘end’ to the programme. With smaller groups and a much longer time period than other programmes we can afford to deep dive into the psychology of why we do what we do and individual areas of a participant's needs.
All this takes place in inspiring surroundings where participants can focus on getting the best out of themselves.
The ULP is like our other programmes, which all have accountability at their core. People change behaviour and build habits when they're held accountable. People know we’re going to challenge them and we do so in a supportive manner that helps them be the best person they can be.
Participants are expected to come back every session and report on their progress. Nobody wants to come back week after week saying: "I didn't do anything”, “I din’t achieve my weekly goals”.
Because the programme lasts so long participants get a real opportunity to build habits into their lifestyles. I think the falling off the wagon bit in my comment can go in here. The emphasis of the programme is on sustainability. No matter what work pressure you or your execs are under there are certain things in life that shouldn’t change, if you are to give your best performance. We identify what these are - they’re different for everyone - and we work at blending these into sustainable habits that you enjoy doing or carrying on with so that the core of your life/mental resilience is controllable and everything else is benefitted by this core being maintained at all times.
Often when things start going wrong we get overwhelmed by life. “I’m so busy I haven’t go time to go to the gym, eat healthily, go to bed at a reasonable hour. I’m so tired I scream at the kids and don’t spend any nice time with them. I’m so stressed I don’t sleep well when I do go to bed.” It all seems too much to tackle. Often changing one thing can change all of these things. We help you navigate your way through the confusion and overwhelm to a harbour of calm organisation and core practices. Once you have mastered this, everything else in life becomes so much easier.
What’s the difference between a good work performance and a bad one? Sometimes the difference between what makes a good day and a bad day seems a mystery. But it’s not. The things you eat influence your energy and mood. The things you think affect the way you feel and your attitude. It's easy to see how improvements in these areas can have a direct impact on a person's performance. Our fitness coach is trained in nutrition and diet too. We hold so many false beliefs based on inaccurate headlines that we’ve seen over the years. We will help you sort the wheat from the chaff and eat in a way that benefits YOU as an individual and provides you with what you need to perform at your best.
Once you've improved key leader's performance in a business then these benefits start to trickle down across all the areas that the leaders touch. Like a champagne fountain. Simple trickle down economics.
Inspiring Others to Greater Performance
People are inspired by people who display the attributes they themselves want to have.
An important part of being a leader is being looked up to and respected. If you don’t have discipline in all areas of your life then how can people trust you? If you can’t look after yourself how can you look after a business. This is what people think, even if only subconsciously.
A study conducted by the NHS found that diabetes patients who saw an overweight nurse for dietary advice faired worse than those who saw a slim nurse. We notice fitness and we are judgemental about I - whatever we might tell ourselves. This applies to people looking at us too.
Participants often say they learnt as much from the other people in the room as they did from our instructors. And why shouldn't they? With between 8 and 12 highly experienced business people in the room the group discussions are an extremely important part of the learning experience. With everyone working on their own unique issues there is a wealth of experience, support and advice available. Not to mention the intense feelings of camaraderie that develop over the weeks, many of our cohorts continue to meet up for years after the course finishes. We haven't even begun to calculate the amount of business done through the natural networking that happens on our courses.
Each participant has a minimum of 3 individual mental resilience sessions with the coach and 19 individual personal training sessions with the fitness coach. The leadership coaching sessions are split between phone calls and face to face sessions as required. Individual time with the coaches is just as important as group time as it allows the coaches to really drill down into issues that are affecting individual performance. While respecting confidentiality, the coaches will discuss how best to support the individuals to achieve their specific goals in these 3 areas and to create a sustainable lifestyle that supports superior performance.
Each of our instructors has worked with 100s upon 100s of people developing their leadership skills. Firm but fair, none of them will be afraid to challenge you but will always be respectful and aware of the difficulties you are facing. All of our instructors have been through the programme themselves and absolutely walk the walk as well as talking the talk.
Who's it for?
Think about the people important to the ongoing success of your company. Is there someone whose sudden health emergency would place your business in real difficulties? The ULP is for them. High level leaders. People who have a large effect on your business. Someone who, if you lost, would significantly impact your company.
Imagine what would happen if key people start losing effectiveness. The consequences can be devastating. You don’t like the idea of that but the truth is your key people are probably not working at their greatest level of effectiveness right now. The people who come on our course are astounded at how much more they can accomplish and at how much higher a level they can perform after only a few sessions with us. They can’t believe they have been operating in such an ineffective way for so long. “The best time to plant an oak tree is 25 years ago, the second best time is now.” Don’t waste any more of your senior exec’s potential, attending our programme will be the best thing you do for your bottom line this year.
What We Teach: The Recipe for an Ultimate Leader
The core approach of the ULP is the same as the ILP. Although we teach many news skills and behaviours, that are designed to get the best out of the participants and those around them, the secret is to prioritise attitude and new habit formation. Unless we consistently do what we need to do it’s a waste of time and energy. It’s what we do each day that counts, not what we think, or hope for, or try.
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
"All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” – William James
A True 360 Assessment
Many companies claim they have a 360 assessment but what they actually have is a 180 assessment. Truly great leaders learnt long ago that the secret to being a better leader is simply being a better human being. If you have an argument with your wife or are worried about your children does that not affect your performance at work? If you have stressful day at the office can you honestly say you don't take it out on your family when you get home? We've all done it. You're 1 person, not 2. The different parts of your life feed into and affect each other. That's why we take a holistic approach.
That's why our true 360 assessment takes feedback from all the important people in your life, from work and home.
The results of every 360 analysis are as unique as the person it's about. Each participant will be working on different things identified in their 360 analysis. However unique a person is there are patterns we see over and over again.
Whereas in the past corporations seemed happy to chew up and spit out their execs, ‘corporate wellness’ is now becoming the new normal, as companies realise the benefits of a happy and healthy workforce, rather than the traditional under pressure and stressed out.
The benefits are obvious. There is the direct reduction in sick days from a healthier workforce. Also if staff feel valued they are more likely to be loyal and hardworking.
The vast majority of companies in the FTSE 100 have some sort of focus on physical and psychological health or a full on corporate wellness programme. These are savvy businesses not keen on wasting resources so they must have a pretty good reason. Researchers found FTSE 100 businesses that used the words 'mental health' or 'wellbeing' more than twice in their annual reports generated up to three times more profit than those that didn't.
How tired we are or how little sleep we are getting is often worn as a badge of honour. This is crazy. Leading neuroscientist, Matthew Walker, suggests our current attitudes to sleep can be compared to what we thought 30 years ago regarding the dangers of tobacco. We're doing far more damage than we realise, at least 5 nights out of 7. Not only that but getting enough sleep leads to greater performance in almost every area of our lives. Sleep makes you live longer. It enhances your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and the flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed and less anxious. Sleep is worth thinking about. We look at your sleep habits and assess how to improve the quality and quantity you’re currently getting in order for you to access al the benefits above.
Your body is like any machine. The food you put in your body is your fuel. The quality you put in will reflect in the quality of your output. There's a popular saying in computer science: Garbage in, garbage out. You can't get good results from bad data. The same is true when we're feeding our bodies. Start thinking about food as fuel rather than as entertainment. That said, we also understand that a little bit of what you fancy does you good so we’re not about prohibition in any aspect of the programme. We are all human after all.
Fitness isn't just about being "thin" there are plenty of unhealthy thin people around. It's also not just about doing one type of exercise like running or cycling. Maybe you're a good runner or cyclist but that doesn't mean you're fit. It just means you're good at riding a bike. Strength training is about all round fitness and will help increase mood, energy and performance as well as help prevent illness and diseases. Strength training also extends our increased calorie burn from exercise from hours (cardio) to days.
When we reach 30 we stop developing muscle, from then on we're slowly losing muscles everyday for the rest of our lives. The best way to avoid the problems of ageing are to be fit and healthy. Recent studies show that strength training can prevent Alzheimer’s. Strength training can also help prevent most of the problems with getting older which are mostly caused by the body weakening.
In a Swedish survey of 3,000 managers, more than 90% said that physical exercise had a positive impact on their leadership skills.
Numerous studies have established a positive link between physical exercise and cognitive performance.
Excess fat is not only linked to diabetes. It also increases chances of all the things we’ve already talked about: heart disease, cancer, stroke and dementia. These diseases are not only devastating to your personal life. If you run your own business there are many people depending on you not just your employees and their families but the state you leave the business in for your own family.
Reducing fat will have a direct beneficial effect on all the illnesses we’ve mentioned, it helps prevent diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. Strength training has been shown to prevent onset of dementia and lessen the effects of your body weakening as it ages, avoiding many downsides of getting older.
Being in good physical shape will not only help you avoid horrible diseases it will give you more confidence, more energy and simply make you feel better.
We split mental resilience into 2 areas; Resilience and Focus.
Developing Mental Determination will help you stick to and achieve your goals, give you the courage to say No to the things that aren’t important and stick to the things you know you need to do.
Marcus Aurelius knew this, not resting on his laurels once he'd become Emperor of Rome or General of Rome's armies, he continued to work on his mental resilience every day. Knowing it was the only way he could be a great leader.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
Being resilient is not about never falling down. It's about standing back up when we do get knocked down. And you will get knocked down, that's guaranteed.
“It ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” - Rocky Balboa
During the final for the 10,000 metres at the 2016 Olympics Mo Farah was knocked over halfway through the race by a competitor. I was watching and my immediate reaction was: "Well that's over, what a shame." But I’m sure you remember, he got up and won the gold medal despite being well behind as a result of his fall. That's resilience.
We strip the nonsense away from mindfulness and meditation and teach a practical pragmatic approach. Tim Ferris while interviewing hundreds of top performers from a range of industries found that 80% of world leaders in their field had some sort of daily meditation practice. It's not just for hippies.
Leadership and Building a Culture
If you haven't forgotten this is still a leadership programme. Leadership is so important. Sometimes no matter how well prepared you are or how much you work to prevent something sometimes you can’t control everything. If the worst comes to the worst and we can't prevent terrible things happening, your senior leaders need to be developing and building teams that are well prepared to operate without them. As we've seen before having a senior member of staff taken out can severely affect the running of a business both operationally and financially.
Leadership skills will help you in your day-to-day business life as well as in your social life: planning, delegation, creating a coaching and feedback culture, prioritising the important and not the urgent, developing a line of succession, having an exit strategy. All of this will help you get the best out of your people, deal with difficult situations and difficult people.
The goal of any serious leader is to build a business or a team that works without them, to create a culture that survives them. This is how Apple has gone from strength to strength even after Steve Jobs’ death.
Praise for the ULP
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