Study: Leaner Execs Viewed More Favorably

Susan Hall

My colleague Ann All has written about what it takes to move from the CIO role to become the CEO, which actually isn’t that common. Among the requirements: drive, change-management skills, good communication skills and a willingness to take on challenging projects.

A piece at The Wall Street Journal, though, says the route to the corner office includes a well-worn path to the gym. 

According to research from the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership, while you might want to trust your gut, as Agent Gibbs advises on the TV show “NCIS,” basically you need to work it off. In short, a few extra pounds can sink your hopes of advancement at work.

"We have stereotypes about fat, so when we see a senior executive who's overweight, our initial reaction isn't positive," the article quotes Barry Posner, a leadership professor at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business as saying.

Execs with excess weight were seen as less effective.

"Because the demands of leadership can be quite strenuous, the physical aspects are just as important as everything else," Sharon McDowell-Larsen, an exercise physiologist who runs an executive-fitness program for the nonprofit Center for Creative Leadership, says in the article.

In the study, execs with a body-mass index over 25 were viewed less favorably on task performance than those who were leaner. The leaner execs also were viewed more favorably on interpersonal skills.

Executives who participated in the study, however, said concerns about their weight may have affected their self-confidence, which could have played a role in the study.



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