Leaders face many unique challenges. Being a leader has several inherent benefits as well as challenges. One challenge is “power stress” which results from the demand for influencing others and the increased responsibility of the position (McClelland, 1985).
Power stress is considered to be part of the experience resulting from exercising this influence and the subsequent sense of responsibility felt by those in leadership positions.Richard Boyatzis (2006) proposes that that leaders who are able to develop others through adopting a coaching engagement, are able to significantly lower this stress at a neurological level, which in turn has a positive ripple effect for the coachee, the coach and the organization as well.
Next: Are you on your way to burning out? Do you sometimes feel isolated? Do people really tell you the truth? Would you listen if they did? (That’s another topic …)
Other signs of impending burn out are: dissatisfaction with work or home life, irritability, restlessness, reduced creativity, poor decision-making, relationship problems at home or work, depression, anxiety, increased alcohol use, gastrointestinal problems, high blood pressure to name a few.
Coming up: You can reverse the effects of power stress and avoid burnout (and dramatically improve your productivity, satisfaction and happiness in the process). Stay tuned!
Leaders are responsible for making quick yet “correct” decisions about critical issues and executing those decisions.
It is critical for leaders to be non-judgmental or neutral in evaluating, deciding and taking action. “Judgment” is often paired with a negative emotion (which our brain interprets as “pain”), which then closes doors to insight, awareness, empathy and solutions.
When we are mindful, or aware without judgment, we have a greater opportunity to evaluate our thoughts, feelings and beliefs without judgment. Being able to label or re-frame these “mindless” assertions, also allows us the opportunity to neutralize the negative charge that comes with the judgment associated with our reactions, painful feelings and “shoulds.”
At that point of awareness and reframing, we then have a choice, and thus an opportunity to execute that choice, try it out and see what happens, instead of being held hostage by the past. Labeling events and feelings, as well as an increased awareness at the levels of sensing, observation and knowing integrates and balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain (Badenoch, 2000).
Leaders can develop the skills to be intentionally mindful, sustainable leaders by developing the muscle of mindfulness in their brain. As a leadership coach who is an expert in the combination of relationships, communication and neuroscience, I have seen leaders whose peers and subordinates describe as “mindless” and “socially inept” be able to ramp up and learn the skills pretty quickly, and see a noticeable difference in their effectiveness at work, but also significantly lowering their stress level in the process.