Right now, stress is at an all-time high for most people, and particularly for leaders – leaders of our nation and our states, leaders of businesses, teams and corporations and leaders of our families. Many try to ignore the feelings of stress and work harder and hope like crazy it will go away. However, they are so far up to their eyeballs in it that it’s impossible for them to operate at an optimum level. But what sets people and leaders apart is how they deal with it, or not. Stress, if not managed intentionally and effectively, can have detrimental effects on not only your professional life but also your personal life too.
Stress impacts your ability to think clearly and to manage your responsibilities – you feel out of control. This can then have a negative impact on how you interact with your superiors, your direct reports, your co-workers, and even your family and friends, affecting relationships, which further impacts your stress levels.
Stress can also eat away at your health, particularly if you’re eating poorly on a regular basis and not prioritising exercise, fun, and rest because you’re so busy.
You cannot lead and live your life if you’re “unclear”, unhappy, unfit, unhealthy and unsocial! The longer this destructive cycle continues unaddressed, the worse it becomes and everyone and everything in your life will suffer!!
There are many things you can do to address stress. The first 4 listed below are highly effective, but keep reading until you get to number 5, as it’s the most powerful stress combatant I utilise.
- Prioritise your health.
Get regular exercise and rest, and give your body proper nutrition. Your body won’t perform at it’s best if you’re not looking after it. It’s like your car – if you put chocolate sauce and Maccas fries in the petrol tank, you won’t get very far!
Are you exercising, eating proper nutrition and getting adequate rest?
Are the people you lead exercising, eating proper nutrition and getting adequate rest?
- Have fun!
People like working for leaders who are fun, who have fun, and who have fun with them. Fun combats stress big time (plus it’s fun). Put it in your calendar as a non-negotiable. Fun things in the calendar give you something to look forward to when you’re plowing your way through the day/week. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel to help you keep climbing.
Also, schedule some fun things to do with those you lead. Teams that have fun together, more often than not, stay together and produce better results.
What’s the next fun thing you have planned for yourself?
What’s the next fun thing you have planned with your team?
- Get organised!
You can’t operate effectively if you’re working in a mess – messy inboxes, out of control or non-existent filing systems, or a workspace in disarray. Get sorted and do it now.
Are you organised?
Are your people organised?
- Face your problems head-on.
Procrastination is a leader’s worst enemy. The longer you dwell on a problem and let it fester, the worse it can become and the toll it takes on your stress levels grows incrementally! Effective leaders face their problems head-on and are not afraid of conflict and making the tough decisions to move forward.
What is a tough decision you need to make today to lead more effectively?
Do your people procrastinate on tough decisions? How can you help them with this?
- The most effective strategy for managing stress: get a mentor.
I’m confident the things I’ve outlined above are not new to you (but serve as a timely reminder 😀) however, what might be new is the power of allowing yourself to be led by a mentor to manage stress. It’s the most effective leadership strategy to deal with stress and many other leadership issues (that can lead to stress).
If you already have a mentor, discuss with them some key changes you need to make to reduce your stress, for example, letting go of a detrimental team member or, something as simple as going to bed by 10 pm each night. – and then pick your top 3 and put a date to when you’ll accomplish them to keep you accountable for change.
If you don’t yet have a mentor, choose someone who you trust, who is independent of your business, team or organisation and who is highly experienced in your field (or similar) and in life.
They become a sounding board, someone to inspire and encourage you and give wise advice, but also call you out when necessary e.g. not having a work/life balance or challenging a strategy you’re planning.
As they’re independent, you can talk freely and not be concerned your conversation will reach the ears of others in your organisation or that their advice is biased. It’s amazing how talking with a trusted person, who is “in your corner”, about the issues you are facing, can help with your stress levels. You don’t have to lead alone.
And another important element of allowing yourself to be led by a mentor – they will hold you accountable to accomplish what you said you’d do to reduce your stress.
Do you have a mentor who is independent of your organisation?
If not, can I encourage you to find one (it could be an acquaintance, someone recommended by a colleague, someone who you know in your business circles you admire etc) and meet with them regularly? It will be the best decision you will make to be a stronger, more effective and less stressed leader.
Some other articles I’ve written that may give you more insight into this topic:
I talk further about the importance of being led in my book, “The Dream Is Everything”. If you’d like to receive a FREE e-copy of my book, (RRP $24.95), click here.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy.
Take care and keep climbing,
**Note: If you’re struggling to lift your mood, to see light at the end of the tunnel, or just feel down a majority of the time, you’re not alone and you may need to seek professional help. Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
If you’d like to learn more about my strategies for reducing stress, we’ve just launched our new LEADING4GROWTH ONLINE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. In it, I take a deep dive into strategies that will help reduce your stress and the stress of those you lead, and much more. Click here for more information.