Consider what skills you need to develop in order to realise leadership greatness. Common areas that need capacity-building include simple skills like general knowledge, peripheral vision, networking, confidence-building and specialisation. Other more clearly defined skills could include delegation, time management, conflict management and stress management.
I think we all define stress quite personally. What we do know is that stress is not busyness (and no-one has exclusive rights to being busy – our perception is often that we are busier than anyone else!). No-one has exclusive rights to busyness. Stress is that uncomfortable feeling of anxiety that sits in the pit of your stomach. When it affects your health adversely, this is often the first time that we sit up and take notice.
Stress is generally considered to be negative. But it is evident that stress, when controlled, can be used to galvanise people to action. It can be used in a constructive manner. Distress is when someone cannot adapt to the stress, or cope with it, and the result is suffering.
As the internationally recognised means for obtaining help is a distress signal, recognise that when someone is distressed, he or she is in need of help. Distress is when one is scared that something bad may happen. One’s peripheral vision is reduced and your senses move into attack mode (fight), or wish to escape the situation (flight).
Eustress, which feels similar, is actually different, and has the benefit of increasing performance. Your senses are elevated as is your confidence. In a sporting world this is termed “getting into the zone”, and it has very positive consequences as the athlete at this stage focuses almost entirely on their goal and so boosts performance. Effective leaders, if they provide the right environment with appropriate “stress”, can produce similar results with their workforce. What they do have to remember is that each individual responds differently to stress, so what may be eustress for one, is actually distress for another. This is yet one more reminder that each individual of the team needs different leadership.
What to do in times of stress:
- Learn to recognise the signals before they become problematic.
- Work out coping mechanisms – for some people it could be better diet, exercise or meditation. For you it may be different.
- Try to avoid stress becoming distress.
A leader needs to know when to let go, when to take a break and to rest, recuperate and revitalise in order to restore his energy to give the best to his team.