How 'reflective walking' can make you a better leader

Managers are being advised to amble outside of their normal working environment to help solve problems.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 03 Jul 2014

‘Reflective walking’ sounds like the kind of New Age fad favoured by Highgate Mums in between their juice cleanse and taking little Petronella to ballet classes. But taking some time out for a meditative stroll could help you solve problems and become a better leader or manager, according to leadership training company Call of the Wild.

‘The most important thing is taking the time away to reflect on workplace issues, but away from the workplace, removing all the paraphernalia. It gives you a different perspective on the issues you’re facing,’ Call of the Wild director Kevin Gould told MT.

‘There’s something about this mind-body link. We’ve got two legs to walk, not two legs to sit at a desk all day.’

The company has been running leadership programmes from uts base in the Brecon Beacons in Wales for the last 15 years and has incorporated walks where participants reflect on their problems since 2010. There can be between one and three strolls a day of between 10 minutes and an hour long, depending on how thorny the issue is.

It hasn’t actually managed to empirically pin down the link between strolling and eureka moments, but is linking up with the University of the West of England to investigate it more thoroughly.

‘If we could tap it and find out exactly what it is we could sell it and make a fortune, but there’s definitely something about walking that helps people come up with new and better solutions,’ Gould said.

He cited the example of a middle manager in a car company who decided to take his colleagues on walks around Milton Keynes (around the roundabouts perhaps?) instead of holding meetings and appraisals inside, with the result that ‘productivity went through the roof’.

Gould was, unsurprisingly, keen to emphasise that going for walks was not ‘all touchy-feely’, but fed into programmes defined by objectives and outcomes. When the weather’s this good, anyway, less of being a desk potato is probably only a good thing.

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