Managing executive stress is a challenge for most corporate organizations. In a 2000 report, R Wheatley from the Institute of Management in London suggested that 75% of executives report their health, happiness, home and work performance are all negatively impacted by stress.
Workplace stress management wasn't such a hot topic 20 years ago and you would think that with the flexibility of telecommuting, working-from-home, flexible work hours etc, our workplaces would be less stressed. Yet many leaders ... feeling exhausted overwhelmed and close to burning out from working crazy hours ... would say that it's the toughest it's ever been.
More deadline pressures, fewer resources, longer hours, more travel is causing overload for leaders in many of today's commando style organizations. Consequently, anxiety and stress management is a very real need for most leaders.
If you feel trapped in a cycle of excessive pressure and responsibility then some of these tips for managing executive stress may assist.
I have coached many leaders in how to say "No" to their manager and still be seen as a top performer who delivers. Here's one of the simple techniques I have shared with them. When your boss is piling more work on - ask him or her this question: "Here is my list of current priorities. Over which of these does this task take higher priority?"
Questions like this ensure that you and the person who is asking more from you keep your workload manageable and no nasty surprises arise such as unmet deadlines.
Often I hear leaders say they feel guilty about delegating to their already overloaded team members. Whilst a nice sentiment, the problem with this is that you are probably restricting their growth and their opportunities.
By knowing your people and knowing the type of work they love to do, you can delegate to them tasks that they will be only too excited to take on. It's rare to hear of anyone saying they feel overwhelmed or burnout when they are doing what they love. More likely they will find themselves in the state of Flow as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book of the same name.
Give the person you are delegating to the opportunity to say yes or no by asking the same type of question you would ask of your manager: "If you take this on, which of your priorities will suffer?" And a good follow-up question is "How do you think this is best handled?"
Hopefully, if they have people reporting through to them they'll delegate through their overflow and ask the same types of questions. (Do you see the flow-on effect?)
Eventually additional work will flow to someone in the business who has no-one to delegate to. You will find (particularly if on offer is a task/project that lets them use their strengths and they love) that they will innovate ways to improve their productivity. For example, in one organization I worked with, people who had been taking two hours to do a particular routine task, once offered more engaging work to do, brainstormed and discovered ways for the task to be completed in 45 minutes. Go here for Successful Delegation Tips
Stop Deceiving Yourself: Possibly one of the biggest self-deceptions of many leaders, when it comes to managing executive stress, is that they are indispensable. Their actions such as: not taking leave, coming in whilst ill, working 12-15 hour days, 7 days per week, consistently missing important family events - proclaim very loudly to the world their belief that the workplace would fall apart without them. Empower your team to be able to make decisions whilst you are away, so that you can have the time to rejuvenate and refresh.
Exercise: Getting physically fit improves not only your physical health, but also your mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins into your body which helps you to feel good.
Meditate: Research suggests that people who meditate are happier, healthier and live longer than those who don't. Certainly my personal experience has been that meditation has reduced anxiety and stress and enabled me to feel better within myself.
Break Up Your Work Day: Your decision-making becomes poorer when your mind is cluttered with many conflicting priorities and you are feeling under pressure. Something as simple as taking a 5 minute walk around the block may be all that you need to clear your head and take some tension from your mind.
When you return to your workplace after that few minutes you'll often find that you are feeling re-energized and new more creative thoughts may have popped into your head. (By the way, for best effect, leave your mobile in the office!)
Be willing to ask for help when you need it. Whether it is the help of a professional counsellor, using a coach, your manager, your peers, your direct reports, your family seek out people that you can turn to for encouragement and support.
Leaders with high self-esteem find it easy to ask for assistance and don't suffer from the unhealthy belief that they are weak if they can't do it all.
In fact you may even be pleasantly surprised by how you really aren't the lone ranger and there are probably people on the sidelines more than willing to take up some of your overflow.
Focus on the now. Yes, you may well do planning for the future, but there is a world of difference between planning and worrying.
You have probably had experiences where you have been worrying about something in the future and it didn't come to pass. Well what a waste of time and energy! The only moment you have to deal with is the one right now. Fussing and fretting about what 'could be' does little for your energy levels or the future. Taking the right actions now is the most important thing.
Whilst financially it may be enticing to stay, at some point you may need to ask yourself "At What Cost?" The price you are paying may well be more than just your health, it may also include declining relationships.
I have coached several leaders who resisted, due to financial commitments and the desire for security, to step out of their stressful situation, have eventually found the courage to do so. Without exception they have all said that, armed with a clarity about what they were wanting to create, it was the best decision they made ... even though it may not have been a walk in the park!
I've also coached several leaders, who once armed with a new skill-set - i.e they applied skills such as those described above - were able to take the dragon, soothe it and remain very happily where they are!
Before you take the major step of resigning, work with a coach or take a stress management class in order to help you with anxiety and stress management and enhance your skill set at managing work and stress loads better. This will reassure you that you aren't taking the problem with you - which might well be you!***zz-mad-marketing-main.shtml***