The Bottom Line: We all experience stress, but people in any leadership position require a few more skills to handle their stressors.
I have studied leadership for years and have worked with leaders in various capacities in various organizations, so this topic is one that I’m quite passionate about. Over time, I will be writing a number of posts that deal with leadership and stress, focusing on both good and bad leaders and the stress that leaders can bring upon themselves and upon the people who report to them. This will take the form of the ‘good boss, bad boss’ approach and I know you’ll find it interesting because I have no lack of opinion regarding both effective and ineffective leadership.
At any rate, on to the topic at hand.
It’s quite possible that many of us have been in leadership positions at some time in our lives so we may be able to directly relate to some of the stress that leaders have to handle. Whether you were (or are) captain of a sports team, the head of the local parents’ association, the organizer of a charity, the manager of a department, or the president of a company all leaders have to meet the demands of their position and handle the stress involved. Even if you haven’t been in a direct leadership position, you have probably observed others who are managing a group of people and materials.
Interestingly, although most articles on leadership tend to focus on business leaders and the stress that they may have to deal with, when you look beyond business to other life areas there are common factors that are generally typical of leadership at all levels and in all circumstances. These are what I call the ‘generic’ leadership stressors.
- Expected to do more with less in less time.
- Lack of people-development and necessary skills.
- The demands of long hours.
- Motivating employees.
- Poor performance by direct reports.
- Dealing with difficult people.
- The politics.
- Unreasonable internal and external customers.
- Managing Conflict.
- Competitive peers who are not team players.
- Working with senior bosses who have different leadership or management styles.
Each of these generic stressors is a blog topic in itself and will be addressed over time.
For now, suffice it to say that effective leadership is all about creating an environment of respect in which people can achieve and in which others are inspired to follow a common direction, are motivated to accomplish common goals, and are committed to the success of the organization.
All of the above stressors go away if a leader has the desire, the knowledge and the professional and interpersonal skills required.