We all react to stressful moments in our lives differently. How should leaders be handling these moments and which tactics work best?
Stress can cause us to act differently. It can cause us to be more abrupt, more direct, less effective, and too aggressive. Afterward, we may feel regret, but too often the damage is already done. William James has said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” We have the ability to change our thoughts, and therefore we can change how stress affects us and how often it affects us. The first step is eliminating the stress caused by things we don’t control. The second step is reflecting. We can learn about our reactions and the thoughts that trigger anxiety. The third step is practice. We can practice the reaction we desire.
Stress can ruin the moments in life that we should be enjoying. In 2019, we should choose our thoughts and have more joy, and less stress. Even the greatest of our leaders face anxiety and stress in their day-to-day lives. Great leaders are always working on strategy, but concurrently managing the tactical actions aligned to their plan. It is a delicate balance. Too far in one direction or the other and you can find yourself off course and treading stressful waters.
One approach that has served me well is knowing the difference in each conversation. I think it is best accomplished if you can separate the two into separate discussions. You can approach one of your employees or team members and let them know you want to talk strategy. Or you can let them know you need to review tactics, and then proceed to be very clear on actions and expectations. This clear communication will likely aid in a productive conversation and less stress for everyone involved.
If you are forced to speak to both in a single conversation, preface your comments to identify your thoughts. You could say, “strategically thinking…” or “tactically, we need to…” Sometimes team members can be confused if we expect action but talk strategy. They may not feel empowered, or strategic concepts may not have the clarity they expect. If they cannot tell the difference, the team will struggle. How do you balance strategy and tactics in your conversations? Is it clear to your team members which are which? Are expectations clearly defined? What are you doing to ease the stress in your life?
One way you can cope with stress is by taking the time to write down what is causing it and your feelings surrounding the issue. Jack Klemeyer spoke about this issue in an article about ways to control stress. This part rang true for me:
Write down what is bothering you. Writing it down and seeing it on paper, will help to provide some perspective on what it is that is causing you stress. Then divide your paper in half. On one side list the “stressors” you can change, and on the other side list those that you can not change. Try to let go of the things you can’t change and try to fix the ones that you can change. Better yet, do this in your journal. That way you can look back and notice how you’ve grown!
Find out and target what it is that is stressing you out. If it is just your job, then think about switching careers. If it is your family, then work on the issues you have with them — zone in on what’s causing your stress and then deal with the root of the problem. Communication is the key, and that includes communicating with yourself!