The Dangers of Unmanaged Stress

Case Study: A leader in distress

Rob is under great stress.

His company is on the rocks and he feels like he is being pounded by a ton of the same rocks.

He has not come up with a good solution yet. In fact, he hasn’t come up with any solution.

He feels like all his creative juices have been sucked out of him.

He feels so drained - physically, emotionally, and mentally.

He feels angry and frustrated with himself and is unsure if he can still save his company from this crisis.

His sudden bursts of anger resulted in him firing his best employees and it has affected his other employee’s morale.

His frustrations caused frequent fights with his wife and less time with his children.

Rob’s most significant dilemma: “If I can’t save my company from this crisis, what will I feed my family? My children are still young and going to school; how can I support them? What will happen to my employees and their families? What should I tell them? What will happen to me? How can I pay the loan that I took out of the bank?”

Rob is under great stress, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, Rob’s story is an all too common one. How do you relate to his story? Do you find it challenging to manage the stress in your life?

The Dangers of Unmanaged Stress

When organisations face a major crisis, the leaders and the managers experience the lion’s share of the responsibility. It is no wonder why leaders like Rob become overwhelmed by stress.

When leaders get overwhelmed by stress, it trickles down throughout the rest of the organisation, creating disengagement and overwhelm amongst employees which in turn makes the crisis even worse.

When not managed well, stress can negatively impact a leader’s well-being and effectiveness, as outlined below:

Unmanaged stress can affect your ability to make sound decisions.

Like with Rob, stress, when not managed well, can rob you of your creativity and your ability to make good decisions. This can significantly affect your ability to navigate your team through to the other side of challenging and difficult times.

The pressure of stress can impair focus, inhibit creativity, and make information processing harder. Thus when confronted with a crisis, leaders who cannot manage stress tend to focus on the immediate problem without considering the future or the broader picture. This can result in missed possibilities for innovation or a failure to communicate hope and optimism to keep employees focused.

Unmanaged stress can affect your and your employee’s morale.

Because of his anger and irritation, Rob fired two of his best employees and affected the other members of his team's trust and morale.

According to research, people like leaders who maintain a calm demeanor and an optimistic approach. Unmanaged stress can cause negative responses to emotions such as anger and irritation, undermining your employees' trust and confidence in you as their leader. When you have a shaky team in your midst and disengaged people who do not trust you, your organisation will have a hard time navigating through any crisis.

Unmanaged stress can affect your relationships.

Rob’s unmanaged stress strained his relationship with his wife, children, and employees. Similarly, your stress can lead you to become rude, angry, and impatient with others. This can negatively impact your professional relationships, reducing people's willingness to speak up or disclose information to you.

In addition, shutting others out and depending solely on your judgement, undermines trust and narrows your vision.

Unmanaged stress can affect your overall health.

According to numerous studies, unmanaged stress will affect your overall health and well-being.

When you fail to manage your stress well, you may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, sex drive and sleep problems. Stress can also cause emotional issues, depression, panic attacks, and other types of anxiety and worry.

How can you lead your team out of a crisis if you are not well physically, emotionally, relationally, and psychologically?

Remember that your health is your true ‘wealth.' The health of your organisation - your team - relies on your health as their leader. And your organisation’s overall health will determine your organisation’s success in navigating through a crisis.

Developing Stress Management skills

How about you, can you somehow empathise with what Rob is going through? Do you find yourself becoming overwhelmed and not being able to manage stress? If you do, here are some developmental tips from our Social and Emotional Intelligence programs that can help you manage your stress and lead your organisation successfully out of any crisis:

• Recognise that stress is a normal aspect of life and view it as an opportunity to learn.
• Recognise – in the moment – your stress reactions and pick a healthy response.
• Expect change; develop the ability to anticipate and accept ambiguity.
• Find a relaxation technique that works for you and use it regularly (for example, deep breathing, meditation, relaxation audio programs, listening to music, going for a walk, doing yoga, picking up a hobby, read a book or watching a movie to take your mind off things, getting a massage, exercising, doing Tai Chi, visualizing a happy, stress-free time and making a genuine effort to re-activate those feelings of relaxation and no stress).
• Maintain your health. Exercise regularly and consume a well-balanced diet daily; look after yourself.
• Make good use of your time. Allow enough time to travel to your destination (the airport, your next meeting), so you don't feel rushed. Plan ahead, prevent procrastination, set time boundaries, and insist that people respect them.
• Set realistic goals, prioritize, do your best, and then let it go.
• Try not to control everyone and everything; instead, focus on what you can control.
• You must stop blaming yourself.
• Concentrate on the good and the positive.
• Discuss your concerns/issues with friends or someone you can rely on.
• Seek help from others. If you think you need professional help in dealing with stress, then seek the help of an Emotional Intelligence Coach or a Psychologist. We at People Builders have coaches that help you with that.

When leaders practice healthy stress management and self-care, they set a good example for others to emulate. By doing so, an organisation or community becomes healthier and better equipped to respond to challenging situations and manage future crises.

Learn how to manage your stress and become a victor over any crisis and distress!

 We Are Here to Help

At People Builders, we have a team of expert trainers and coaches who can help you in building you and your team’s Emotional Intelligence. Contact us today for a quick chat to see how we can partner with you to train and coach you and your team.

If you are interested in becoming certified to be a trainer and coach in Social and Emotional Intelligence, Applied Neuroscience, or Extended DISC, go to our People Builders Institute website.


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