Now, researchers at Loughborough University are set to put this to the test by discovering whether the psychological ‘muscle’ also positively adapts following physical challenge.
In collaboration with The Leadership High organisation, colleagues from the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences will investigate the impact of workplace performance on those exposed to physical challenges such as skiing, mountain biking and trekking.
These challenges are designed to expose participants to a variety of physically and psychologically demanding conditions in relatively unfamiliar or even remote environments. It is believed that through reflective practices, participants learn important lessons and develop key competencies from confronting such challenges and adversity.
Through observational and experimental methods, the research aims to generate new data on the short and long-term outcomes for individuals and workforces from participating in such challenges, noting positive changes that would ultimately increase performance levels.
Dr David Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Performance and Management Psychology, Loughborough University, explained:
”In these challenging times we live in, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how we can better support people to thrive in the workplace and their lives more broadly.
“We are particularly interested in learning more about the psychosocial benefits of physical challenges that people choose to engage in that, by pushing them out of their comfort zones, result in professional and personal growth.”
William Tyne, a PhD student leading the project added:
“Previous research has highlighted that engagement in physical recreational challenges brings about an array of positive psychological outcomes to the lives of the participants. These outcomes typically include increased self-efficacy, self-esteem, resilience, and motivation.
“The value of these intrapersonal skills in the workplace are becoming increasingly apparent. To date, however, there remain limited studies which examine the association between psychological outcomes derived from physical recreational challenges and workplace behaviour and performance.”
The Leadership High was cofounded by Loughborough University alumna Lara Milward alongside Sarah MacDonald. They have developed a unique learning and development program that harnesses the idea that physical and psychological power are linked and create better leaders and decision-makers.
“I have seen hundreds of lives transformed through physical challenge and I have seen self-belief and confidence transformed too.
“I have all the anecdotal evidence I need and now it is time to discover the science behind the impact of learning that one can endure and prevail physically and how that translates to other areas of your life-transforming obstacle into performance fuel.
“It’s thrilling to be back at Loughborough”.
The study is currently underway with the first set of results expected in summer 2021.