How to Handle Stress as a Leader


Being in a position of power can often be stressful. You have a lot more responsibility on your shoulders than others within the business, and if anything goes wrong, you’re likely to be the one blamed. If it weren’t for the numerous benefits that come with leadership, you might start questioning why anyone puts themselves through it!

When you are stressed, this can lead you to make poor decisions, and will often result in you taking out your frustration on others. It’s therefore essential to find ways of managing your stress levels. We’ve explored a few techniques below, to help you get started:

Practice Saying No

While you may want to do everything all at once, sometimes this just isn’t practical. You can’t take on every project – you need to learn to say no. In times of crisis in particular, ensuring your priorities are manageable is absolutely essential. You need to consider which projects are necessary for the business to run, and turn down or put off the rest.

If you generally delegate less pressing tasks, you might think that this is the solution, rather than saying no to certain projects. However, there are only so many hours in the day, and you don’t want your staff to experience burnout in your stead. It’s important to have clear priorities and make sure everyone’s workload is sustainable.

Find a Balance

We all know that we need to find a healthy work-life balance, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is successful! Some of the best leaders are people who are pursuing an admirable goal, selflessly giving up their time and energy to properly get things done. But this way of working is unsustainable – you need to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing too. Self-care should be a priority, as this will be better for you in the long run, and you’ll also be setting a good example for your colleagues.

It’s furthermore sensible to set clear boundaries between your work and home life, particularly if you work from home. If possible, set up a dedicated office space, so that you are not constantly surrounded by your work. And ensure you only work for a certain number of hours each day, taking the time to do something for yourself each day too, such as exercising, reading, or spending time with family and friends.

Plan and Prioritise 

When you start to lose focus on your goals, you’ll undoubtedly begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed. It will be difficult to know whether or not you’re heading in the right direction. To overcome this issue, you should consider what’s truly important and attainable when you plan out your task list each day. Any tasks that seem less important can be pushed back, or delegated to someone else.

Planning in general is a good practice to get into. Plan what you’ll be doing each day, week, month, quarter and year, as well as what you’re hoping to accomplish through these tasks. You can furthermore ensure that you have greater levels of accountability by making these plans public within your organisation.

Ask for Help

Don’t be scared to ask someone else for help if you need it. You won’t be able to do everything yourself, no matter how hard you try! Some people believe that requesting support is a sign of weakness, but it can actually take more courage to admit that you do need some assistance. And if you’ve hired the right people, they won’t mind lending a helping hand.

So whether it’s a complex project, long term strategy planning, or simply getting through the day, ask your team for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. If your employees see you setting this example, they won’t be afraid to ask for assistance, and your organisation will develop an enviable level of cooperation and teamwork.

Lead by Example

When it comes to handling stress, one of the best things you can do is try to create a stress free culture. Show others that they don’t need to do it all, by delegating tasks and trusting your employees to do their jobs. Embrace autonomy and set a good example in terms of a good work-life balance.

The best leaders understand that you can’t work at full throttle every single day. Your long term performance will suffer, as this type of working isn’t sustainable. Set realistic targets, and you’ll feel accomplished when you hit them. Unattainable goals just lead to undue stress and are normally doomed to failure. 

Essentially, you don’t need to get stressed as a leader – it’s all about preparing for any eventuality. With the right planning and mindset, stress can be a thing of the past!


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