Today’s economic and social climate plays a big role in perpetuating stress in the workplace. Executives who know how to leverage personal pressure while effectively managing stressed employees possess a vital skillset, particularly in a cost-of-living or organizational identity crisis.
For example, leaders who successfully practice healthy personal habits and foster wellbeing in their organization’s workforce hold a significant competitive advantage. Knowing how to manage their own feelings of stress can also increase an executive’s longevity in the demanding world of c-suite leadership.
The above global report recently found 41% of senior leaders were stressed, and 69% of executives were thinking about quitting because of their wellbeing. Therefore, effective stress management can be key for reducing executive turnover. And in the same breath, stress management in the C-suite will have a trickle-down effect on their company. The idea of ‘follow the leader’ rings true in today’s world of work – if the C-suite is experiencing burnout from stress overload, how can they also effectively mitigate the stress levels of those who work with and for them?
This article focuses on three of the actions C-suite leaders can take to leverage the tensions inherent in their roles as organizational leaders. For information around mitigation of stress in the workforce, check out our article here.
Savvy executives start by recognizing the difference between feeling stress and feeling pressure. A certain level of pressure and expectation is inherent in any executive role. This tension is often motivating and a beneficial by-product of personal and organizational success (e.g., company growth). When working in a high-stakes position, however, stress can easily mask itself as ‘just part of the job’, when this isn’t the case. By correctly identifying stress versus pressure, senior leaders can take advantage of tension-ridden scenarios through innovation, perseverance, and focus. They can rally flagging troops to achieve objectives and recharge themselves by accomplishing challenging goals or navigating rough waters. Conversely, failing to identify personal stress can result in questionable decisions, divisive behavior, and decreasing productivity and morale. Choosing the most effective path forward begins with correct identification of stress vs. pressure.
Stress management has been heavily researched, and a myriad of resources, training, techniques, and approaches exist, and this is because stress is known to have negative effects on the body and the mind. Chances are, most C-suite executives have studied and built their stress management skills over the course of their career. Executives can be experts in ways to mitigate stress in their organization while failing to prioritize their personal physical and mental health management. One study found CEOs work an average of 79% of all weekend days, 70% of their vacation days, and 62.5 hours per week. Knowing how to best mitigate stress helps lessen negative influence, but only if stress management is a scheduled, prioritized, and practiced part of an executive’s daily routine.
Successful executives schedule their health into their lives just as they would schedule shareholder meetings. Allocating specific time in the day to exercise, eat, and reflect is essential. There is no one set thing executives should do in the time they block out for themselves. Rather, it’s important to take that time and do something restful, rejuvenating, or just plain fun. Executives need balance as much as employees do, so establishing a clear work-life balance is instrumental to managing stress and mental health.
It is also important to remember that executives are role models – their behavior has a direct effect on the culture and tone of the company they oversee. If they are trying to promote values of mental and physical wellbeing while choosing not to comply themselves, their team will likely feel less comfortable asking for support or assistance when it is needed. The classic example? Coming to work when sick, but then encouraging staff to take the day off if they are unwell. This type of mixed message has a trickle-down effect on the organization and can elevate workforce stress levels.
While these actions may feel simple or obvious, getting started may not be easy. One path to greater personal and organizational wellbeing is through executive coaching.
Another is bringing a consultant on board to help identify effective health and welfare strategies. Taking action to intentionally manage stress and pressure can result in a domino-effect of improved productivity, organizational culture evolution, and improved attraction and retention rates.
Knowing how to manage stress at an executive level in a healthy manner can cascade down the hierarchy of your business and foster a healthy, happy, and productive workforce. To get in touch to discuss coaching for stress or implementing health and wellbeing strategies, please connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org