Transformational Leadership & High-Intensity Interval Training

Transformational Leadership Himelhoch Cover Large

Transformational Leadership: Editorial Reviews

The remarkable contributions of leaders, such as Steve Jobs of Apple, to their organizations have rekindled interest in understanding the relationship between transformational leadership, its antecedents, and performance. This excellent exploration of the connection between physically fit leaders and their perceived transformational approaches helps scholars of management and organizations better understand the affiliation between transformational leadership and its antecedents. This is a must read for scholars of management!
–Allan Afuah PhD, Author of “Business Model Innovation: Concepts, Analysis, and Cases,” and Associate Professor of Strategy, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, The University of Michigan.

A new way to think about fitness, health, and occupation.
–Miki Carey, Owner, Gardens CrossFit, a “Top 15 CrossFit Gyms in America,” per

Transformational Leadership: Mini Monograph Description

Imagine walking into a gym, 200 pounds overweight, and working out for the first time in a class with élite athletes who are climbing ropes, jumping on tall boxes, and lifting barbells loaded with plates that are multiples of their own body weight. As a beginner, struggling to even finish the routine at all, let alone to complete it in within a specified time, is overwhelming. Granted, the weights and number of repetitions may be scaled to match the fitness level of the individual athlete; however, such a setting would intimidate many. Imagine also finishing last, but receiving resounding cheers from everyone in class because they understand both the enormous challenge and accomplishment. Such is an emblematic experience of many athletes who walk into a gym that offers high-intensity, instructor-led fitness classes for the first time. Although they may not be 200 pounds overweight, they may relate with Juliet, a female scientist who walked into a high-intensity exercise class almost 10 years ago in a state of ill health. Her doctor warned her that she needed to change her lifestyle and lose weight or she would die. “I was a heart attack waiting to happen, and I could have died any minute.” As a scientist and manager of pharmaceutical researchers, she realized “you can just be gone like that and now your passion is gone because you’re gone.” The only way that she could achieve her vision of “helping mankind” through the discovery of treatments for cancer, AIDS, pandemic flu, anthrax infections, and other diseases, was to work through the people she leads. She lost 200 pounds, eats well, and is alive and thriving as a scientist and mother.

Obesity and related health problems afflict the American population. According to Jacob Seidell’s (2014) chapter in the Handbook of Obesity: Epidemiology, Etiology, and Physiopathology, “…over 74% of American men and 65% of American women are now overweight or obese” (p. 48). Employers are beginning to pay attention to obesity rates because the costs associated with their health care affect their bottom lines. There are two ways to address obesity. One is through diet; the other is through exercise. Himelhoch’s research focused on exercise, specifically to see how it relates to the mind of organizational leaders. Studies show that leaders who use transformational leadership styles are better able to cope with changing business climates. These studies have not yet determined if physically fit leaders transform both their bodies and their organizations because research connecting these two investigative domains is sparse. Most studies have examined the effects of transformational leader behavior on organizations, yet no studies focused on the role of mind-body connections and their relationships to transformational leadership. The purpose of Himelhoch’s qualitative phenomenological study was to begin to bridge that gap, and understand the ways physical fitness connects to transformational leadership behaviors. Study participants were leaders from a variety of professions, all of whom are avid exercisers. The fact that these leaders are extreme exercisers provisioned the examination of physically fit leaders because their fitness levels are at the higher end of an exercise-intensity range. The results suggest mind-body connections in which physically fit leaders use transformational approaches to their leadership. Participants serve as role models to their employees, consistent with the idealized influence dimension of transformational leadership. Their perspectives align well with intellectual stimulation, as they aim to stimulate creativity and innovation. Participants’ behavior is consistent with individual consideration, and in a way unique to HIIT because they use measurement as a motivational tool. The HIIT leaders in this study work to convey an encouraging and moving vision, consistent with inspirational motivation. Future research directions are suggested.

 About Dr. Himelhoch, the Author

Carol Himelhoch, PhD, (The University of Michigan) is Professor of Management and Organizational Behavior at Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Her management experience spans Tier 1 automotive manufacturing operations, marketing, advertising, and retail management. She has been active in consulting since the mid- 1980s and is co-owner of NeoLogix, LLC. She has practiced high-intensity exercise since 2005.