No matter the position, company, or industry, leaders will encounter stress. While we may not be able to control the initiators of stress, or the stressors, leaders can control how we react too and manage these situations. According to an academic journal article on coping with stress by Peggy Thoits, coping strategies start with either problem-focused strategies or emotion-focused strategies. Here are some techniques that encompass both stress-coping strategies:
1) Stay Organized
Staying organized will help mediate the confusion and lack of clarity that stress brings. Organization will help the supervisor remain clear on the priority of tasks and provide confidence that they are readily available to access any information needed to solve the problem.
2) Use Support System
Whether it’s supervisors, teammates, or mentors, there is always someone available to talk too. Take the time and try to schedule a quick meeting or casual conversation to talk about the current situation. Being able to express oneself in a controlled environment can be very helpful, and you may gain extra insights or a unique solution from the conversations.
3) Step Away from the Problem
Being able to momentarily separate from the stressor is an effective way to regain one’s composure. This time away can vary from working on a different task to leaving the office for a short period of time. Interacting with others outside of the company can help bring a new perspective to the problem at hand, and can help re-energize oneself to solve the issue.
As a leader, part of the job responsibility is to effectively manage workload and delegate tasks. It is acceptable to delegate a new task to an employee to help manage the current stress load. The supervisor must be mindful of not passing along the stress to another person, but rather analyze the situation and see where an employee make be able to make a key contribution.
5) Start with Small Tasks
Being able to combat stress starts with attitude and behavior. The feelings of accomplishment and self-worth simply by completing a task can help build momentum for future responsibilities. If a large project or presentation is causing stress, start by breaking it down into many smaller manageable parts and solely focus on completing one part at a time.