So how can you combat stress and become an all-round effective leader?
Stress affects every career-driven woman at some stage of their working lives, but leadership roles are often found to cause the highest levels of stress.
Recent research has shown that women rank higher than men in their ability to lead with impact and clarity. However, it was also found that men dealt with work-related stress more effectively, showing that both genders have positive qualities to bring to management roles.
Learn to Say ‘No’
Women are known for their ability to empathize and put themselves in others’ shoes. Studies have shown that women are often brought into flailing companies at times of crisis due to an ability to empathize. However, we can also frequently prioritize others needs over our own. As a strong female leader, you should remember that you cannot be everywhere, for everyone, at all times. Learn to plan your schedule and be ruthless when looking at what takes priority.
Manage Your Time
Your time as a manager is valuable. However, this doesn’t mean all of your time should be filled with tasks; in fact, doing this is ineffective time management. Be realistic – what tasks can wait? Being a perfectionist and trying to ensure everything is completed early can result in unnecessary panic and stress. Clarify, prioritize, organize and plan to ensure your focus is where it should be, when it should be. Know when to walk away from a task and trust your team when delegating.
Your body will respond to stress in a similar way each time so it is valuable to recognize these reactions. Do you feel nauseous? Do you feel your heart race? Your behavior and mannerisms may also be affected and you may become erratic. Stress reactions in leaders can induce stress in your team as you may not be able to think rationally or be capable of decision making. Recognizing these triggers can help you to stop and take some time away from the environment you are in where possible to ensure you are not affecting others.
As a manager, you have a stressful job. To carry it out effectively, your health must take priority over everything. By exercising, you are reducing the likelihood of long-term health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. You are also boosting your brain according to research. Most importantly, exercise and healthy eating improve your mental health which will, in turn, improve your ability to cope with stressors. Your happiness is detrimental to being a successful leader as you will be able to face the causes of your stress head-on.
Remember that you have the right to a personal life. Poor work-life balance can lead to stress as your focus may be on work outside of the workplace. Join the gym, find an interest and make friends who do not work at your company. You may be a strong female leader at work, but it is ok to be someone else outside of the office.