Sun, Jan 6, 2013
To the Boss: Is the Stress Epidemic Sapping Your Leadership Team
Constant fire drills. 24 x 7 connectedness. Pressure to outperform just
to stay even. I hear about these from direct reports with increasing frequency as they lament how much energy and mindshare are devoted to what may not, in the end, lead to success for themselves or their organizations.
Articles in the national news speak of taking work to bed (with a cartoon of husband and wife in bed with their tablets and cell phones. Experts offer advice on controlling negative emotions in the workplace (for example, deep breaths or sleep before sending emotionally charged emails).
How widespread is this? An article in the weekend WSJ of January 5-6 indicates there must be significant demand for remedies. Imagine just ten years ago seeing an article that describes these “Star trek” products now available:
- a digital device to self-monitor heart rate to be used in conjunction with
a CD with a coaching program on “coherence,” or calming the mind ($229)
- another device that monitors heart and respiratory rate and blood oxygen which computes how stressed out you are and shows you ($119)
- a third device that comes with guides and videos on wellness and stress management (free!)
If you wish to know the detail, see Joshua Fruhlinger’s article:
As a leadership coach, I have myself experienced workshops on leadership presence. The most powerful was based on use of the martial arts to achieve a centered-ness and mindfulness under duress (a requirement for effective leadership).
Odldly enough, in today’s NY Times, Tom Friedman reminds us of a military training routine known as OODA (observe, orient, decide, act) and advises that if your OODA is faster than the other guy’s you will win the battle. Observe and Orient are about getting centered, putting stress aside. It seems that much of the foucs of management articles is on this topic.
It is my belief that CEOs must answer for themselves a question they have asked me for decades: “Am I pushing too hard or not hard enough” and must find ways for their best and brightest to moderate stress while maintaining high performance. Start by making it a topic of discussion. This isn’t coddling, it’s productivity and retention.
That’s just my view. What’s yours?