Health

Saturday 20 September 2014

We need some leading lights in the battle with obesity

Obesity is an increasing problem.
Obesity is an increasing problem.

The fitness and health challenges we're facing are huge. One in four of our children is suffering from obesity and one in three of us adults is not taking exercise. Probably talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Not swimming the swim. Not jogging the jog.

We need leaders to inspire us. Health and fitness leaders to stand up and be counted. To make a contribution. To challenge a new generation to be the best that they can be.

Here's a very important question: Are you a leader in your family or in your community? If your actions inspire and influence others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more as a person, then you are a leader.

Though leadership may be hard to define, the one thing common to all leaders is having an inspiring vision and the ability to influence people to make things happen. Leaders bring out the best in others.

There is an old form of leadership that we all suffered under at times, and maybe that's why we haven't developed our leadership skills. The old Red Platform leader was known as 'The Boss.' A terrifying command and control figure. When you think of a powerful leader, do you see a strong authority figure, a boss who cannot be defied, whose disapproval is to be feared?

Traditionally, leaders have sought to exercise authority, control and power. In the long run this doesn't succeed, and if it happens to succeed, the result is repression shot through with fear. People either don't perform at all or perform reluctantly when motivated by fear.

The system goes back to Isaac Newton who was born on January 4, 1643. Newton's idea of organisational peak performance was the Swiss clock, the symbol of excellence at that time. Everything in that clock ran so smoothly. Newton's organisational system was based on that concept except there was one unpredictable unreliable element – man (or woman). So Newton's idea was to eliminate this unpredictability and unreliability. How?

By getting rid of any kind of participation from people in decisions that affected their lives. So we got a culture of "Put up and shut up," and "When I want your opinion I'll give it to you." These negative leaders created passive, fearful followers and exuded the three toxic As of the Red Platform. They were: Authoritarian, angry and aloof.

In 1947 another man, Alfred North Whitehead, died. He was the polar opposite of Newton. He discovered The Green Platform leader. The role of the new leader was to be in the centre of a circle creating small powerful self-sustaining teams committed to excellence. Far from seeing man or woman as the unreliable element, Whitehead saw man or woman at the trump card. With Green Platform leadership you see what's magnificent, noble, bright and wonderful in people and you bring it out of them. Green Platform leaders create other leaders, not more followers.

Michael Heery is one such Green Platform leader. His vision and leadership created the famous St Brigid's Athletic Club in Ballinacree, Co Meath, more than 50 years ago. In our communities we need many more inspiring leaders like Michael who have a vision, who talk the talk, walk the walk and run the run.

Declan Coyle's book 'The Green Platform' is now available in all good bookshops

  • Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland winning teams. declan@andec.ie

Irish Independent

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