Transformational stress management for business leaders and executives
3-4 minutes’ read
Left unmanaged, stress affects clarity, effective use of work and leisure time, creativity and decision making not to mention relationships, communication and effective leadership.
Have you ever experienced stress from deadlines and urgency of tasks or from interpersonal conflicts or even from differing views on a project? Or even from having to be the “leader”? Will it ever really be managed?
The Center for Creative Leadership reported that 88% of leaders report that work is a primary source of stress in their lives and that having a leadership role increases the level of stress.
Why is it important to address stress?
With leadership development company Lee Hecht Harrison reporting in 2016 that:
67% of business leaders are struggling with stress and managing their emotions in the workplace and 84% of senior managers, directors and owners feeling they need to curb their natural behaviours at work,
the figures strongly indicate that businesses need to do more to manage workplace stress.
Stress, as we know, can be good for us, encouraging our survival instincts at necessary times and possibly even motivating us at work into action. However, stress left under-managed or not managed at all affects clarity, creativity and decision-making, not to mention relationships, communication and effective leadership. As it can affect us mentally, emotionally and physically, it affects the ability to operate at optimum effectiveness. Results for ourselves, our clients and our employers can therefore be affected.
Nearly 80 percent of surveyed leaders state they would benefit from a coach to help them manage stress.*
So, how can you manage stress so that your experience in doing so lasts a lifetime?
Here are 10 things to help become an even greater leader:
- Become increasingly self-aware and “alive” – what do you do at present to reflect work? Do you the work-life balance you want? What would you like to be different? Regularly ask yourself such questions and what you are able to actually do about it.
- Stay calm at work. How do you begin your day? How do you feel as you get to your place of work? How grounded are you at work? Look around you – who and what do you truly see? How do you communicate and interact? Are you actively aware? Check in with yourself throughout the day – no one needs to know.
- Don’t overreact. If you sense yourself getting “stressed” (you will probably know your own body sensations linked to stress), before it gets too severe, take a breath and remind yourself that calmness will lead to clarity and better choices (not to mention better health). Take a walk if you are able to – even 10 – 20 steps – using the walk as an opportunity to tune in to your rational self.
- Accept the stressor and deal head-on – if reasonable and feasible. Talk to a trusted colleague.
- Take regular breaks. As a professional, this often seems impossible. Yet, what if it was necessary for your stress levels to remain balanced and for you to take the most effective next steps in your role?
- Ensure you are staying healthy in mind and body for the long run with exercise, the right foods and enough quality sleep. Mindfulness or mediation, spirituality of your choice is also increasingly regarded as a significant contributor to stress management.
- Turn off gadgets. Spend time with people who matter to you and do things you enjoy that have no connection to your day job.
- Visualise what you would like your life to look like. For some, this sounds like an alien concept, but for those willing to give a try, imagine yourself in 6 months’ time – what would you like to be different in relation to stress? How will you be standing, talking or feeling? Now ask yourself whether this is likely to just happen or whether you need to take active steps.
- Plan ahead where possible with the knowledge that business life requires flexibility too.
- Ensure you’re fully making use of the resources around you, your staff, your technology (where reasonable), your professional development.
Greater awareness around our own behaviours (which may contribute to stress) and external stressors can help enormously in managing stress. Accepting that a certain level of stress is inevitable coupled with self-management can help you to exercise your role at work with greater awareness and clarity and enjoy your work and interactions much more.