7 Secrets to Reducing Leadership Stress

Stress in the workplace costs U.S. industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year and is linked to each of the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. And let’s not forget divorce. If not dealt with effectively, your performance—and your health—can degrade to the point of catastrophic leadership failure.

Not only does cognitive intelligence go down under stress, so does emotional intelligence.

Key Components of SREI include:

  • Mood—awareness of the emotions you’re feeling
  • Energy level—how much zip you have at any given moment
  • Emotional control—how well you’re keeping yourself together (or not)

Increased emotional intensity, flying off the handle, putting off decisions, avoiding difficult conversations (or eagerly seeking them out) are all warning indicators. Also be aware of bodily indicators such as increases in heart rate and breathing, sweating, redness and blotching, twitching and hot spots.

“Getting the right amount of sleep does wonders for emotional intelligence.”

Another technique is simply to ask yourself how you feel. Bringing your emotions into consciousness is a great way to step back and regain perspective. There really is something to the old adage your mother told you about “counting to 10” before reacting.

As with cognitive resilience, getting the proper amount of sleep does wonders for emotional intelligence. You might have noticed that, when you are sleep deprived, it is not only much harder to keep your emotions in check, you are also much less aware of emotional cues from others.

When your stress management capacity, cognitive resilience and stress resilient emotional intelligence are working together, you have both the capacity and reserves to productively manage stress. In unison, these three aspects of stress resilience ensure that you are able to withstand the stress of leadership and avoid a catastrophic leadership failure.

7 Stress-Busting Practices for Avoiding Catastrophic Leadership Failure
In my coaching practice, I do an assessment called ARSENAL that helps executive leaders identify emphasis areas to increase their stress resilience. ARSENAL is an acronym for 7 practices to build your stress resilience. These practices are:

  1. Awareness: habitually monitoring your stress levels in terms of your SMC, CR and SREI
  2. Rest: allowing your mind and body to relax, regenerate and recuperate
  3. Support: the psychological, emotional and physical support you get from others
  4. Exercise: physical activity that builds cardiovascular fitness and physical strength
  5. Nutrition: what, when and how you nourish your body
  6. Attitude: mindset, happiness, optimism and contentment with your environment and those around you
  7. Learning: activities to increase knowledge, skills and abilities on an ongoing basis

Each of these practices is backed by solid scientific research that confirms their efficacy against stress. Putting them in play gives you the means to manage the relentless stressors you face every single day, without a drop in performance.

Having the discipline to implement these best practices on an ongoing basis is the key to increasing your stress resilience. The benefits are undeniable; however: leaders who are stress resilient are also healthier, happier and more productive.

That’s good for you—and for your organization.



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