Stress is never a fun or easy thing to deal with. Some stress can be good for you; it motivates you to work harder and reach for your goals. But too much stress will keep you up at night, force you to overthink, and may even lead to health problems. There’s a common misconception that leaders are predisposed to deal with stress more effectively than the rest of the population. That is simply not true. Instead, they are able to make stress work for them instead of against them.
Think of a stressful time in your life. Whether it was an exam or a job interview, how did you get through it? The way we deal with stress is so often what leads to success. And leaders are very good under pressure. They maintain a sense of realistic optimism. Sure, they might recognize that the situation isn’t ideal, but they also don’t go into a shame spiral. They know that things go wrong, but they also recognize that they can deal with any setbacks and learn valuable lessons on the way.
When facing a fight-or-flight response, choosing to fight is what will bring about the best response when it comes to the stress of leadership. Leaders stay calm and fearless in tough situations, seeing them as a temporary setback, not a permanent obstacle. In a stressful situation, do you focus on the present hectic moment, or do you think about the long-term goal? Leaders constantly have the company’s goals in mind, and they deal with every stressful moment keeping that in mind. They focus on the tasks that matter, rather than wasting time on pointless details or dramatic moments.
Reflection is crucial when it comes to stress relief. Leaders feel less pressure when they take some time to step away from the situation to assess and determine the best solution. Stepping away from the stress allows leaders valuable time to find the clarity they need. They might exercise, or they might take some time to practice self-care. Either way, they understand the value of balance and stepping away from a situation when it’s become too much.
Leaders are professionals at managing stress and preparing for the unexpected. Addressing stress, limiting it when you can, and making it work for you are the keys to success.