Tommy Boone, PhD, MPH, MA, FASEP, EPC
Strategic Leadership Within the Field of Exercise Physiology
Department of Exercise Physiology
The College of St. Scholastica
Duluth, MN 55811
THE DEVELOPMENT and forthcoming of leadership within exercise
physiology is complex. Exercise Physiology is currently involved
with multiple professional organizations with different objectives,
missions, and core values. This article is intended to advise and
educate those involved in the field of exercise physiology on the
importance of strategic leadership within a profession. I will
define leadership from various perspectives, share an overview of
various leadership models, and share why leadership is important in
professional development. Do not be misconstrued; leaders of
exercise physiology do not only consist of the presidents of
professional organizations, board of directors, CEOs of health care
companies, and managers of cardiac rehabilitation. This article
will demonstrate that everyone has the potential to be a leader.
Leaders cannot be leaders though, until they step up and put forth a
Why is leadership needed in exercise physiology? The field of
exercise physiology is currently being pursued by multiple professional
organizations, which have different agendas. As a student in a
Department of Exercise Physiology, I am fascinated about the role of
leadership. I am aware of the possible transformations within the
multiple organizations, which may affect the future employment trends
of exercise physiology. It will be imperative in the future that
the leaders of these professional organizations compromise or
collaborate on an overall exercise physiology practice and/or
definition. I chose to attend The College of St. Scholastica
because I want to get an official academic degree in Exercise
Physiology. I also feel that the board certification offered by
the ASEP organization, which is given at St. Scholastica every May,
will help employers recognize the importance of the education and
skills the board certified students have mastered.
First, what is leadership? My definition of leadership is the
ability to orientate and help other individuals find success and
guidance. Leaders are:
It is also imperative that all leaders set an example by developing
protocols, mission statements, and carry out the duties while enforcing
ethical standards. Leadership of a professional organization is
held responsible for the welfare of its common good and intention for,
which it was created. Leaders are also involved in the role of
budgetary and financial concerns.
- knowledgeable and are educated
- able to build long term goals and provide
- understanding and not afraid of failure
According to an article published by Nursing
Standard it stated , “Another trait that sets leaders
apart…they must be able to recognize their weaknesses and to build on
their strengths to overcome them to look to what they can do rather
than what they can’t.” The ability of a leader to stand
apart from the counterpart organizations is to be confident in his/her
success, but never under-mind the amount of power or clout an
organization may hold. This kind of mind-set/mental state could
destroy the leadership base from which the organization was created
from the base upward.
Leadership amongst the profession of exercise physiology is needed for
the continuing development of the profession. Leadership can not
only happen within professional organizations of exercise
physiology. Exercise physiology leadership needs to take a more
defined look starting with the individual. The impact that one
person can make can have significant outcomes in the field of exercise
physiology. According to article published by Melum , entitled
"Developing High-Performance Leaders," the author clarified the
importance of leadership, which starts with the individual.
Mellum stated in the article, "The Center for Creative Leadership has
begun to identify capacities that are developable, for example:
The performance of the individual leader is hard to measure, but the
involvement, dedication, strategic planning one does can benefit those
who proceed to further develop the profession in the future.
There is also great satisfaction and gratification of being involved in
the building and creation of a permanent foundation in the area of
- Ability to take a broad, systemic view
- Ability to work effectively in social systems
- Ability to learn from experience
As an individual involved in the development of leadership, one can
also be subjected to other organizational problems. It is
imperative to use our best judgment to not make irrational decisions on
behalf of other fellow exercise physiologists for one's self
benefit. Melum  also included in her article “guidelines for
personal mastery” developed by Kevin Cashman. They included:
Leadership has been classified and defined by various organizations
throughout the years here in the United States and worldwide. There are
various models of leadership. Therefore, I have chosen three
styles that I feel are best suited for the field of exercise
physiology. The leadership models which will be examined are:
responsibility: No one else can validate your
value…Leaders can effectively validate and support others only if they
have validated themselves first.
personal mastery with others: Risk sharing your genuine
thoughts and feeling with others.
beliefs to conscious awareness: Clarify conscious beliefs
and uncover shadow beliefs. Practice reinforcing the ones that
open up possibilities and setting aside the ones that limit you.
As you believe, so shall you lead.
awareness of character and persona: Commit to being guided
by the qualities of character.
feedback: Sometimes other people hold keys to unlocking
self-knowledge…Leaders grow proportionally to their openness to
finding a coaching process: Seek objective coaching support to
accelerate your growth as a leader.
flexible: Over developed strengths may work against you as
things change. Be prepared to take a fresh approach.
(1) The Five Factor Model of Personality, which was developed by Tupes
and Christal in 1961; (2) Situational Leadership; and (3)
Transformational /Transactional Leadership. The importance
of each model will better serve the individual concerned with
portraying their actual leadership type by distinguishing the roles
served as a potential future leader in the world of exercise physiology.
The Five Factor
Model of Personality
The first model of importance for the review is The Five Factor Model
of Personality it is defined by Timothy Judge and Joyce Bono  as,
The Big Five traits are broad personality constructs that are
manifested in more specific traits.
The Five Factor Model of Personality represents functional
leadership. The model offers again another way of defining
leadership. The factors that were presented in the above quote
provided a basic strategic structure to our stereotypically defined
leadership. The only factor that I find controversial is factor
number four labeled “neuroticism.” Is it essential that a leader
experience fear and depression in order to be productive leader.
These may be emotions that may suffice in a time of personal growing
and building up an organization.
- represents the tendency to be outgoing,
assertive, active, and excitement seeking.
- consists of tendencies to be kind,
gentle, trusting, trustworthy, and warm.
- is indicated by two major facets:
achievement and dependability…job performance.
Adjustment - is often labeled by its opposite,
Neuroticism, which is the tendency to be anxious, fearful, depressed,
5. Openness to
Experiences (Intellectance) - represents the
tendency to be creative, imaginative perceptive, and
The next model is Situational Leadership by Meyer . In the Journal of Athletic Training it
provides an excellent definition which states, "To be effective using
the Situational Leadership model,…you must have the flexibility and
range of leadership skills to vary their leadership style." The
Situational Leadership model includes four leadership styles that are
appropriate for…use with different observed behaviors identified in
Situational Leadership is best used in healthcare and/or clinical
setting, such as cardiac rehabilitation where you are working around
various people with different ideologies and skill levels. The
four styles in Situational Leadership build on each other (1) being the
beginning and (4) achieving the status of individuality and
leadership. The situational leader can capitalize on being a good
leader  by his/her ability to, “recognize current behaviors of
people and motivate, facilitate and encourage them to reach their
highest levels of performance and potential.”
when the followers are new or inexperienced and need direction and
guidance to complete a specific task.
the leader to provide moderate to high direction to the student/worker
and lead by example.
the student/worker toward greater independence for autonomous
when followers are willing and able to take responsibility for
directing their own behaviors.
and Transactional Leadership
Transformational and Transactional Leadership was created 1978 by
Burns. In an article entitled, "Transactional
and Transformational Leadership in Nursing: Structural Validity and
Substantive Relationships," the following definitions were given
with respect to the three dimensions of Transformational leadership:
Transactional dimensions comprise the following:
defined as the extent of faith and credibility generated by the leader.
consideration - conceived of as the individual support and
attention provided to followers in the pursuit of challenging goals.
stimulation - viewed as the degree to which the leader favors
ways of doing and thinking.
Leadership differences between Transformational and Transactional were
set apart in one article [that stated, “Transformation leaders, who
obtain support by inspiring followers to identify with a vision that
reaches beyond their own immediate self-interests, transactional
leaders obtain cooperation by establishing exchanges with followers and
then monitoring the exchange relationship.” Judge and Bono
. This form of leadership is empowering to individuals
who are being lead. They are provided with the opportunity to
grow, try new things, and expand based on pre-existing goals of the
company and/or health care facility. Transformational and
Transactional Leadership also stimulates ones intellectual background
to bring forth new ideas. This form of leadership is also
rewarding to those (students, workers, etc.) who are willing to step
forward and act as a representative of the leader by proving that they
are able to motivate others and obtain the goals set forth.
reward - indicating that followers are rewarded in return for
accomplishment of relevant objectives.
whereby the leaders leaves his/her subordinates to do their job as long
as performance goals are reached. Vandenberghe, Stordeur, D’hoore
In consideration of professional organization involvement
Transformational / Transactional Leadership is remarkably challenging
to everyday closed-mind thinking. According to an article , Transformational Leadership: A Strategy
for Organizational Change it stated, “Attention through vision
was accomplished by involving the entire community health care staff in
changing the organization culture from a traditional “power over” to a
“power with” approach.” This form of leadership is not in
competition or trying to be the superior organization, but is looking
to collaborate and work together to provide astounding opportunities
within. When applying this leadership mentality to exercise
physiology one can see the numerous possibilities for the development
and longevity of the field.
Again, why is leadership important in professional organization
development within in exercise physiology? Without outstanding
leadership people are erroneous and are easily influenced by
perceptions of what is stereotypically acceptable. Why accept or
incline yourself to be part of an organization you may not be in
agreement with because of poor leadership decisions made within your
institution or place of employment. Do not be afraid to question
why the leaders? Also, do are be afraid not to be part of an
organization that the leadership is questionable (especially the
leaders are not supporting the professional development of exercise
It is your responsibility to yourself and to others in the field to not
look at the benefits, but to further explore other means necessary to
encourage the development and success of ensuring the stability and
longevity of the exercise physiology profession. According to an
article entitled "Trust Your Inner
Voice" by Boone, it stated, "There is a significant trait that
defines exercise physiologists from other healthcare professionals. It
is their “inner voice.” The emergence of a way of thinking that
has created a revolutionary change from previous thinking in the field.
It has signaled a major transformation of exercise physiology into a
“Society” of exercise physiologists. Today’s exercise physiologists no
longer depend on other organizations for leadership. Instead, they
depend on their knowledge, on their vision, and on their right and
responsibility to lead and manage the emerging profession." It is
important to remember…you are your own person, a knowledgeable,
skilled, and well educated exercise physiologist. Be a
leader. Demonstrate your willingness to support the organization
that you can best represent as a leader. It is also necessary to
pursue the role of a leader to ensure that you are part of the
- Unknown Author. (Dec. 1995). The
Great Quest for Leadership. Nursing Standard, 10 (12-14), 49-52.
- Melum, M. (2002). Developing
High-Performance Leaders. Quality Management in Health Care, 11
- Judge, T., Bono, J. (2000).
Five-Factor Model of Personality and
Transformational Leadership. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85,
- Meyer, L. (Dec. 2002). Athletic
Training Clinical Instructors as
Situational Leaders. Journal of Athletic Training, 37 (4),
- Vandenberghe, C., Stordeur, S., &
D’hoore, W., (2002).
Transactional and Transformational Leadership in Nursing; Structural
Validity and Substantive Relationships. European Journal of
Psychological Assessment, 18 (1), 16-29.
- Cameron, G. (Oct. 1998).
Transformational Leadership: A strategy for
Organization Change. Journal of Nursing Administration, 28 (10).
- Boone, T. (June 2002). Trust Your
Inner Voice [electronic version].
Professionalization of Exercise Physiology online, 5 (6).