Everything I Need to Know About Management I Learned in Yoga


Most people become managers by accident.  You become proficient in a specific business discipline, and all of a sudden you’re asked to manage others.   Unfortunately, most accidental managers never notice that they’re not well developed for the role.  The consequences can be expensive, both for the business and for the poorly managed individuals.

I was fortunate enough to be employed by Fortune 100 companies as I stumbled into management.  Large corporations like Citibank and CIGNA recognize that management is a learned discipline that requires practice for success.  They understand the costs of poor management.  But many entrepreneurs fail to notice shortcomings in new managers. As their businesses grow, this problem becomes a real liability.

When I joined Kaufman Rossin, I began teaching management to our new supervisors and managers.  And as I taught those lessons and applied them in my daily work, I began to realize how much the principles of management mirrored those of my daily yoga practice. It occurred to me that everything I need to know about management I learned in yoga.

Recently I presented a seminar on this topic as part of our monthly Kaufman, Rossin Presents series.  These seminars are designed to train entrepreneurs on a wide range of topics and offer excellent networking opportunities.  Attendees include business owners, non-profit leaders and financial professionals.  Here are some highlights:

  • It’s all about alignment.  In yoga, if you don’t pay attention to the alignment of your body, it’s very easy to get hurt.  In management, keeping your staff aligned with your short- and long-term goals helps them understand their role in the company’s success.  It’s very motivating to know the big picture and how your work contributes.
  • Act like a performance coach.  Just telling a developing yogi to stand on her head doesn’t really teach her how to turn upside down safely and successfully.  Coaching through specific steps – clasp your hands, make a tripod, place your head, and walk slowly forward – makes this one of the most exhilarating poses to learn.  Likewise, coaching a staff member step-by-step through a new task leads to faster and more rewarding results.
  • Practice daily.  My daily yoga practice, whether a short home practice in the morning or a longer studio class, stretches me out and keeps me balanced through the day.  Spending a little time every day with your employees, talking about their work, keeps your whole team balanced and grounded.

Just as I have used props (e.g. block, strap, mat) in yoga to help me develop and grow in my practice, my management curriculum owes much to excellent props – in this case, books. I highly recommend the following reading for managers of all levels: Bruce Tulgan’s “It’s Okay to Be the Boss,” Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Joseph Grenny’s “Crucial Conversations”and Daniel Pink’s “Drive.”

If you’re interested in management training for yourself or your company, contact me at jaltman@kaufmanrossin.com

Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

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