How to Be a Stand-Up Leader in 2019

By Susie Kelleher on January 8, 2019

Group of professionals having a business meeting

We are spending more and more time sitting down than ever before. Why walk to the store when you can grab an Uber from your phone? Why take the stairs when you can save time and take the elevator?

And then, there are the times when sitting isn’t a choice–the commute to the office, the long airplane ride, the endless meetings, followed by a team dinner. As a species, we’ve made a huge transition–from being food scarce and movement abundant, to movement scarce and food abundant. (Does twice weekly birthday cake in the break room sound familiar to anyone?)

Research suggests that sitting for more than 6-8 hours per day increases our risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cancer. And here’s the really bad news: Working out once a day doesn’t mitigate the negative impact of sitting the rest of the day.

But, there’s another surprising negative consequence of not getting out of our chairs and moving at work: Our lack of movement may be negatively affecting the way we lead.

In fact, being a stand-up leader starts with standing up–literally. Research shows that we are more creative and collaborative, and less territorial of our ideas, when we stand. And, an eight-minute walk had a similar effect on creativity and collaboration. Why is that? When we stand, we change the chemistry of our brain and increase blood flow and oxygen—a much-needed boost that can help us work more effectively as a team.

If you want to reach your maximum potential–and empower your team to do the same–one of the simplest things you can do is stand up and get moving—and empower them to do the same.

How you can introduce simple movement into your workday:

  • Instead of picking up the phone or sending an email, take a walk and talk in person.
  • Park further away from your office and take a few extra steps.
  • Take a scheduled break every ninety minutes and do simple stretches at your desk for one minute or take a flight of stairs or two—this will serve as both physical stimulation and a mental break, which will help you engage more fully in your workday.
  • Leave a pair of walking shoes at the office and incorporate walking meetings on your calendar.

How you can empower your team to move more during the workday:

  • Be a movement role model for your team! Ask your team for ideas on how everyone can move more. Listen to and support their suggestions.
  • Encourage your team to use standing desks and support the cost involved in these resources and others.
  • Suggest that one-on-one meetings become walking meetings when possible.
  • Keep meetings to 45 minutes to leave time for movement, stretching, or reflection between meetings. Your team will be more creative and collaborative as a result (and will thank you for the extra time!)
  • When you lead meetings, invite people to stand and make it okay to do so. Request standing tables in meeting rooms and open areas.
  • Educate your team on the importance of movement for both physical and cognitive health.

 How you can stay active, even when you’re traveling:

  • Wear workout shoes to the airport and use the airport as your “track”. Decrease your stress levels by arriving early and taking a lap. Pulling your luggage adds extra work!
  • Stand while waiting to board. If you have work to do, find standing tables while waiting. (Tip: Remind yourself how much sitting you will do for the rest of your travel day. Sitting on that cramped plane feels better after you’ve been standing!)
  • Get up and use the restroom on your flight, even if you don’t have to. Do stretches in your seat. (Feeling embarrassed? Well, remember the payoff—and the fact that you’re role-modeling good health and well-being for others!)

Making movement a regular part of your workday may feel challenging at first, but if you stick with it, you will reap the benefits—and you won’t miss sitting! In fact, standing up and moving will become second nature and your body will prompt you to get moving if you’ve been sitting for too long. Remember, we were built to move, and in 2019, movement may just make you a “Stand Up” leader.


Is one of your new year’s resolutions to get active in 2019? Share your ideas and tips for introducing movement into your workday by leaving us a comment below.

Posted in Blog, Executive Development, Innovation, Leadership Development Tagged with: , , , , ,

About Susie Kelleher

Susie Kelleher is a Principal Consultant and Executive Coach at Linkage. Susie has close to 25 years of experience with a unique and diverse background. She has been a healthcare provider, a sales consultant, a leader of people and a coach and consultant to organizations, teams, individuals and groups. She brings tremendous passion to the work of collaborating with organizations to achieve their long-term vision, with a special focus on creating a healthy and thriving culture.

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