30 minutes a week

A strength and conditioning routine for a healthier leadership team

A few years ago I, decided we needed to add a strength and conditioning program at work, but not for physical improvement. I wanted our leaders to grow and become stronger. That was the start of our weekly, 30-minute Strength & Conditioning meetings.

The results have been outstanding. From these meetings, we’ve:

Created a common language.
Improved communication.
Facilitated team building.
Built trust.
Fostered individual growth.

The most powerful outcome has been the creation of a common language. For example, during one of the meetings a story was shared about a university that underwent a major renovation, adding several new buildings, but no sidewalks. Instead, they planted grass and waited. After a year, the routes people naturally took to navigate the campus wore paths through the grass. They used those paths as a guide to create the sidewalks. Now, when a situation arises during the course of business that needs action and not over planning, all I have to say is “sidewalks” and everyone gets it.

Our S&C meetings have been effective because the intent is not to solve current or urgent problems. The intent is to create an environment for learning, for questioning, for debating perspectives, and for growing individually and as a team. Executing this weekly, for 30 minutes of focused effort, allows a deep dig into the “messy” concepts found in all businesses with employees and customers. It’s not always easy, but just like a personal workout regimen, it is worth it in the long run.

To put this idea into practice:

  • Commit to a set day and time for a 30-minute meeting each week.
  • Create a safe environment for open discussion.
  • Find a book with concepts that fit the most effective ideas to grow your company’s leaders. We have used:
    • “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Patrick Lencioni.
    • “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” by Stephen Covey.
    • “Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard” by Chip and Dan Heath.
  • Assign 10-12 pages to read per week. Have everyone contribute their takeaways.
  • When appropriate, split into groups and dig deeper using situational exercises.
  • Send a recap.

Our businesses are only as strong as our people. Having a healthy, vibrant team will prepare your company to excel in whatever game of business you are playing.

So, what are you waiting for? Get down and give me 30 minutes per week!

Harvey Nelson is co-founder and co-CEO of Main Street Gourmet, a custom manufacturer of frozen bakery products with distribution throughout the U.S.