Stress: Don't Let It Stop You or Even Delay You


Understanding stress, its causes and consequences is imperative to dealing with it

Stress has become the foremost management issue at the workplace. Stress was originally meant to signal danger- a physical threat such as from a neighboring tribe attacking in search of wealth and land. However, we rarely are put in such situations in this day in age and thus this fight or flight response that produces hormones (cortisol) is often misunderstood and overextended. The response puts more emphasis into bodily functions that will help you immediately  (e.g.: energy to muscles) as opposed to the norm of long-term sustainability (immune system, analytical thinking, memory, reproduction, empathic responses). Thus, sustained periods of stress seriously affects one’s ability to lead.

Over 55% of organizations claim to have above average stress levels - American Management Association 

3 out of 4  medical visits in US are stress related- WebMD

We are programmed to be less creative, compassionate and thus automatically less of a visionary in stressful situations. Moreover, our stress handling systems take over and focus on the cause of the stress and not our goals. Our attention, comprehension, learning, communication, and ability to gauge the situation also all fall by the wayside. Leaders cannot lead if they continually feel stressed.

When a leader is poor at coping with stress (likely low in Emotional Intelligence), and feels threatened by many circumstances, not only does it affect him/her, it affects his/her whole team its many stakeholders. Anxiety and stress spreads quickly when coming from the top Leader- due to emotional contagion. Emotions really are contagious.

Emotional Intelligence and more specifically one of its subset's Self-Management is imperative to combat stress. Control of emotion is necessary to minimize stress and stress response. But the largest part of this is the recognition of what not to be threatened by. A major portion of Leader's stress comes from being threatened by a stimulus that they conditioned themselves to elicit a fight or flight response. Our perception of reality is colored by our perceptions of the past - and things that threatened us then (whether really warranted or not) are likely to go threaten us now. This especially happens when a strong emotion is involved with the stimulus. Emotional Intelligence will allow Leaders to identify these false alarm stimulus' and discern rationality from perception of reality.

Be a better Leader and learn Emotional Intelligence and stress management techniques and eliminate negative stimulus' and overextended stress responses. For those that can cope with stress well are much better able to focus on the task at hand and continue to be the leader his/her company expects. 

Please contact me at zubin@eminentsteps.com for Leadership, Strategy, Communication, Career, Innovation, and Emotional Intelligence Solutions for Leaders and find me at my website www.eminentsteps.com. Don't let stress stop you or even delay you from getting to where you want to be.​

This article was originally published at Linkedin pulse. Reprinted with permission from the author.