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Vikram Goel says running inculcates a sense of discipline. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/ Mint
Vikram Goel says running inculcates a sense of discipline. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/ Mint

Vikram Goel: ‘It’s not how fast you go, but how far’

Running brings together many characteristics, such as perseverance and patience, says CEO of HDFC Realty Vikram Goel

At work he is constantly dealing with acres, inches and square feet. During his leisure time, he is constantly counting kilometres and miles.

In 2013, Vikram Goel, now 39, took it rather personally when a colleague pointed out that he had a double chin. The chief executive officer at real estate advisory company HDFC Realty decided he had to do something about it. Around that time, the Striders group was starting a month-long trial of their running programme at his apartment block in Parel, Mumbai. He signed up and then went on to run his first half marathon in Mumbai in January 2014 in under 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Goel says he finds running to be a great leveller in all walks of life, including the corporate corridors, and of late has started checking with young hopefuls who apply for a job at HDFC Realty, about whether they run. “People who indulge in sports or any activity outside of work are much more performance-driven and have a positive and fresh outlook at the workplace," says Goel, who has run eight half and two full marathons. His next will be the TCS New York City Marathon in November. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How does running affect your work?

Running inculcates a sense of discipline. It brings together many characteristics, such as perseverance and patience.

How do you balance your training and work?

That is very simple. I have a dedicated time that I take out for running. I like to run early in the mornings and I have access to the jogging track at my residence. I have the perfect setting.

How does leading by example as a fit leader influence your team members?

Most of our employees are younger than I am. In such an environment, if you can manage to take time out and pursue something with passion, it motivates everyone. The biggest factor is motivation. The passion to do more is driven in further and there is a positive atmosphere around the workplace, which increases productivity.

On the fitness front, a lot of them have started running. Others are at least looking at other forms of keeping fit, like yoga or playing a sport.

How do you use running to improve interaction with employees?

Sports or any kind of team play is a terrific bonding vehicle. It brings out a different persona in each individual, something that one cannot judge while sitting behind a desk. The frankness and openness that is brought out on the playing field is much more mentally relaxing.

Leadership lessons you find in distance running…

Distance running demands determination and discipline. It’s not how fast you go, but how far. It requires a lot more stamina and grit. One has to train appropriately and tune the body to spend the required energy appropriately. It is this strategic training that also applies to my work. Once you have set your goals, you keep moving towards them slowly but surely. You need to be patient, determined and goal-oriented.

Has running changed the way you network?

I run for the joy of running. Networking happens by chance.

Your toughest race.

It was my first full marathon in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2015. While I trained for it, I guess I underestimated the challenge of running 42km. I think I should have trained and rested more before the run.

Running With The Boss is a series where CEOs and MDs talk about leadership lessons, management mantras, the importance of a fit team and striking a work-life balance through running.

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