Stressors can be overlooked by Leadership Blindspots

April 18, 2022 |

As a leader, you already know the negative physical, emotional, and mental effects stress has on you and your team. Stressors lead to ill health, decreased focus, poor morale, and lower performance.

Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that:

·        80% of workers feel stress on the job

·        40% describe their jobs as very or extremely stressful

·        25% view their jobs as the #1 stressor in their lives

You would never deliberately create additional, unnecessary stress for your team. You want to lead well, do a good job, and have great intentions. However, there are some common behaviors that many leaders inflict without thinking about the stress that could result.

In our digital era, working between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. is a relic of the Industrial Age. Technology lets us work anywhere at any time. Your team (and you!) appreciate the flexibility this creates. You can make dinner, put the kids to bed, and get back to work online at 10 p.m.

While your late-night inbox intrusion may seem like a little thing, it’s not. Research shows that that it takes more than 23 minutes to reset one’s focus after an interruption. (And that research didn’t measure any added psychic weight of hierarchical power differentials.) When you email at all hours, you deny the renewal that time off is supposed to provide. Consistent work with no renewal is a one-way ticket to burnout.

Schedule your email to be sent at the start of the next business day, or keep it in your save drafts folder to send out the next morning.

“Call me at 3 p.m. today.”

If this message landed in your inbox, how would you feel? Geri, a manager at a tech company, gets vague messages like this from her boss at least once a week. These messages trigger Geri’s stress and anxiety.  

This message clearly states “what” to do. But it provides zero context. There’s no “why”.

In the absence of a why, humans are notoriously predictable. We need to fill in the vacuum and create meaning. For better or worse, our default is to go negative.

Give people context for your requests. Fill in the vacuums, so they don’t have to make up their own version of the story.

Bias For Action. 

Drive For Results. 

Getting Stuff Done. 

These three statements serve as core competencies at companies around the world. There’s nothing wrong with action, results and achievement. However, driving for results shouldn’t come at the expense of driving over the people who are working hard to deliver those results. 

Creating unnecessary urgency may increase cortisol, but it doesn’t increase performance. 

When you’re stuck in the weeds, it’s hard to see the big picture. Going faster — when you can’t see where you’re going — won’t get you there. There’s a time and a place to go fast, and a time and place to go slow. Leaders need the wisdom to know the difference. 

As a leader, you are the key influencer of the thoughts, feelings and actions of those you lead. The nature of hierarchies and power means that hierarchical psychological baggage exists. You can’t eliminate it. But the first step to minimizing its negative effects is to notice where and how it shows up. Because you can’t change what you don’t notice.

Source: FORBES

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