Want to be a better boss? Exercise

Want to be a better boss? Exercise

If you want to provide the best care for your veterinary patients, first you must care for yourself.
Apr 01, 2012

"Another walk-in? Are you serious? What's going on around here? We're already an hour behind and it's only two o'clock! Why can't you get anything right?" Dr. Calore flung open the exam room door in a huff. The doctor had been like this all week—or was it all month?

Dr. Ernie
Five minutes later Dr. Calore stormed out of the room with a tiny pooch tucked in her arms. She gave the terrified terrier to her assistant and barked, "Do you think you can do something besides stand there? That dog needs blood tests and abdominal x-rays. Well, what are you waiting for? Go already!"

Sadly, this scene is repeated in countless veterinary clinics each day. In these lean economic times, veterinarians are time-pressed to do more with a smaller staff and for less money. Pet owners are harping about the rising cost of veterinary care and often end up postponing visits, resulting in pets with critical conditions and poorer prognoses. Veterinary staff members are putting in longer hours just to make the same pay they earned in 2007. All of these ingredients combined create a perfect recipe for disaster.


Luckily, there's a simple solution to help mitigate stress and improve your relationship with employees: exercise. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Business Psychology, working out diminishes workplace stress. In fact, the researchers report, bosses who consistently engaged in moderate exercise were rated as better supervisors by their employees. Surveyed workers reported higher job satisfaction, less workplace stress, and less abusive supervision when their employer exercised as little as one or two days a week.

Yes, you read that right: These bosses weren't training for an Ironman triathlon; they were working out for 30 to 60 minutes a couple of times a week. The type of exercise didn't matter, either—lifting weights, running, and yoga all boosted morale.

A similar 2005 study of schoolteachers found that when teachers experienced high levels of stress, they were more likely to engage in negative coping behaviors such as uncontrolled aggression, refusing to take responsibility for mistakes, and avoidance of others. Talk about a toxic teacher. However, these bad apples turned golden with a little bit of exercise. When teachers enrolled in fitness programs, the negative effects of stress were lessened.

In both studies participants who exercised didn't perceive that they were less stressed. The difference was how they coped with the craziness. Working out seemed to zap their tendency to lash out at subordinates. Regular exercise may also have helped optimize participants' brain chemistry and allowed them to recover from stressful situations more fully and more quickly. Refreshed and reenergized individuals typically get along better with others and are better leaders. This "buffer effect" of exercise helps create a better boss.