With leadership comes great satisfaction, rewards, and fulfillment, but it also presents a unique set of challenges that can cause high levels of pressure and strain.
If leaders fail to implement effective coping strategies and allow their stress levels to escalate, it can begin to impact everything from their relationships with their team, their ability to make good decisions, the degree to which they are able to accomplish their goals, and if not addressed it can lead to overwhelm and burnout. The more you choose to ignore the problem, the greater the impact your stress will have on your performance.
Try implementing these strategies to help you manage your stress better and become more impactful in your leadership role:
- Learn to recognise the triggers
The first step in tackling stress and reducing its negative impact is identifying the root cause. It’s about identifying the stress triggers that you may have been afraid to acknowledge. You may be concerned about issues either within or outside the workplace. You may find yourself experiencing higher levels of stress during meetings or when confronting a team member about their performance. Stress often stems from a failure to take action, due to fear of the outcome of doing so. Such fear can be debilitating and drains our precious energy.
The best approach is to address each stress trigger one by one, then brainstorm a number of solutions to tackle the problem. Once you’ve pinpointed the source of the stress you can devise the right coping techniques.
Remember to pay attention to your body during times of stress and note how it affects you. Are your muscles tense? Do you start to feel warm, does your heart rate increase, do you clench your jaws? Is your breathing deep or shallow? Developing a greater awareness and understanding of how stress affects you puts you in a stronger position to manage it. These are all signs that you need to take a deep breath and a moment to decompress before choosing your next action.
- Step away from the situation
If you’re experiencing stress in your leadership or management role, you are not alone. According to a recent poll, 44% of managers stated that they have experienced increased stress at work.
Overwhelm interferes with decision-making and can feel like you have lost control. Making poor decisions will only exacerbate the stress. To make the right decisions leaders need a clear head. Sometimes the best solution is to step away from the situation and allow yourself time to relax. This could mean taking a walk, taking a vacation, turning off your phone, participating in an activity that you enjoy and setting clear boundaries at home and work to ensure that you are not being pulled in too many different directions.
Remember you are human too and you need downtime; remember the importance of self-care. You must allow your body and mind time to re-charge. Can an exhausted leader really drive a business to success? If you are running low on steam you will be less productive and less able to solve problems. You won’t be in the right state of mind to engage your team or your customers. This will affect your team who look to you for guidance and inspiration, and if you don’t take breaks they may be reluctant to take them as well.
- Delegate and ask for feedback
Instead of shouldering the burden, get help. When you are feeling overwhelmed, delegate tasks to help lighten the load.
As an effective leader, you should cultivate a talented team around you. Learn how to identify and utilise the unique skills sets of each team member so you can narrow your focus. This will help to limit the pressure you feel to handle everything on your own.
In situations where you cannot delegate a task or responsibility, ask for feedback and suggestions. Seeking input gives you time to evaluate your situation and explore additional options. It also provides potential solutions that you may overlook when you are feeling stressed.
- Practice meditation
More and more leaders are turning to mediation to help them ease their tension and to help them become more impactful in their role. Meditation helps to clear the mind and boosts our physical and mental health. It increases focus, and when leaders are focused they perform better and are more effective at leading teams. It also boosts decision making. Try engaging in a deep breathing meditation for several minutes every day. Deep breathing promotes a state of calmness and relaxation. Regular meditation can also help to lower the heart rate, boost circulation, and enable you to gain better control of your emotions.
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