Come On Leaders, Get A Grip!

iStock_000001444060XSmall According to a press release issued about a recent study by psychologist Gordon Gallup, director of the Human Behavior and Evolution Laboratory at SUNY Albany, handgrip strength (HGS):

“is a ubiquitous measure of health and vitality in both men and women, and as grip strength increases so does a person’s overall health status, speed of postoperative recovery, and longevity. People with higher grip strength scores experienced reduced disability, reduced morbidity, and more rapid recovery from injury, and also have higher bone mineral density and greater fat free body mass.”

However, males with strong grips reported more aggressive behavior and were about 10% more promiscuous. Seems that women with strong grips thankfully don’t share these traits. On the positive side, both men and women with firm grips tend to exhibit good health and live longer.

One theory that the researchers put forward about gender specific differences in the study:

is that it might be a consequence of the fact that upon coming down from the trees, a primitive division of labor emerged that put a premium on the maintenance and further elaboration of grip strength in men. Competition among men for scarce resources, hunting, and tool use over the past several million years may have been some of the gender-specific vectors for the sex differences we observed.

I came about this study via Business Week’s December 3, 2007 BTW column and it got me thinking about handshakes. I have always been told that I have a rather firm one; this probably started as a conscious effort when I graduated college and first entered the business world. Either someone told me or I read somewhere about the importance of a firm handshake. Personally, I also prefer to receive a firmer handshake because to me it projects confidence and commitment. That’s my nonscientific take at least.

A handshake is part of your calling card and personal brand. It’s impression is important and lasting. It literally and figuratively creates a personal connection between 2 people (it’s impossible for three people to effectively shake hands). At least in the Western world, a handshake is a socially and culturally accepted, intimate but public activity than spans generations and gender lines.

So remember, next time you shake someone’s hand you are leaving behind a little of yourself. Oh yeah, you might end up being healthier and living longer in the process too!

SUNY Albany Press Release: UAlbany Researchers Discover that a Handshake Could Signal High Quality Genes (Nov. 16, 2007)

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Peter A. Mello

Father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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