In a normal economy, to say that Leaders are stressed is an understatement—too much to do, not enough resources, too many emails, staffing issues, dealing with investors and customers, and so on. With the onset and ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders' stress levels are reaching even greater heights.
Estimates of how much stress costs US businesses annually are staggering—as much as $300 billion a year says The American Stress Institute. This does not include the costs of replacing leaders who burn out or derail. Yet we accept stress as the elephant in the room and fail to take action to reduce its negative impact. In fact, leaders often over-estimate their ability to manage their own stress—or deny the effects of stress that they are facing—increasing the organization’s stress load even more. Fortunately, this can change.
Whether in a crisis or in a normal operating environment, HPS can help your leaders learn how to operate and make effective decisions even under stress and use tools to manage stress and build resilience with their own personal ARSENAL™ of best practices.
Leaders are highly susceptible to the adverse affects of stress. A leader's day is filled with one decision after another. Those who disregard or fail to recognize signs that stress is increasing put their ability to make good decisions at risk. COVID-19 tends to exacerbate the everyday stressors that already exist, increasing the potential for poor decision making even further.
As stress increases, a leader begins to lose access to two critical decision-making components: Emotional Intelligence and Cognitive Ability. Leaders must recognize that 1) stress is increasing and 2) nothing is being done to halt its climb. Failure to respond appropriately to high stress can result in Catastrophic Leadership Failure™. Having a plan in place to manage stress before it gets too high is a requirement for anyone, especially a leader.
Awareness and understanding are keys to building Stress Resilience. These can safeguard a leader’s ability to access cognitive and emotional intelligences and use them in tandem to make sound decisions—even when stress levels are higher than normal.
A leader's capacity for Stress Resilience is the NEW key Competency for Leadership in the 21st Century. ~Dr. Henry L. Thompson, President & CEO of HPS
The ARSENAL Assessment determines where a leader is in terms of Stress Resilience—the ability to manage stressors and to keep functioning without a drop in performance. ARSENAL results provide a baseline on which to build a personalized plan for improvement. This is data you can use to encourage the types of behavior that promote Stress Resilience.
In 2022 we will begin shaping the post-COVID world using the New Science of Leadership. The new, new normal will require an enhanced understanding of how to structure and lead organizations in an evolving world of speed, agility, technology and science-based decision making. Leaders and organizations will be required to operate at higher cognitive and emotional levels than ever before. This program challenges executives to think strategically and make faster, more accurate decisions—even under stress—than thought possible before 2021.
If you have ever considered mentoring, now is the time. Click here to learn more.
One-on-one coaching can help leaders do a better job of managing stress. (For Coaching Home Page - click here.)
Leadership stress is linked closely with the epidemic practice of hiring and promoting leaders into roles for which they are ill-suited. Organizations increase stress when they don’t use an accurate leader screening process to match leader candidates to the right job at the right leadership Level. It is extremely important to recognize that promoting a leader for doing a good job at his/her current Level does not ensure success at a higher Level.
HPS can help you significantly reduce stress and leader turnover by matching the leader to the best-fit role and Level. We can show you how to incorporate proven assessments such as the Leadership Potential Equation into your current process or help you design a process for your organization.
Read The Stress Effect: Why Smart Leaders Make Dumb Decisions—And What to Do About It (Jossey-Bass, 2010).
This was one of the best books on leadership and stress that I have ever had the pleasure to read and review. I would suggest it as a text for all leadership, management, and business courses at the Master's level and above in universities around the world.
The Stress Effect explains how stress wreaks havoc with decision making and why leaders must become Masters of Decision Making under Stress and how to do it. Click here to go to The Stress Effect website for more tips, tools and resources for managing stress and building resilience. A Book Review Leader’s Guide is also available to walk you through facilitating a discussion of this book in your organization or with your leaders.
If stress is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about in your organization—whether from the effects of COVID or other stressors—HPS can help. Change is difficult, and we encourage you to implement a stress reduction plan into your organization’s culture right away. The purpose is not to create more stress! Incremental and sustainable small changes will pay off in the long term. Lower health costs, improved employee health, reduced conflict and increased performance are all achievable outcomes.