Responding to stress as a leader

Over the last three years, there has been plenty to stress about, particularly for business owners. And it doesn’t seem to be over. With the tail end of the effects of the pandemic, and a war thrown in, there are many predictions around a tough 2023-2024. And because of such projections, as business owners and/or leaders, we tend to react impulsively in our own personal styles. However, these reactions can often add further stress to the people around you. Below are general ‘response types’ that I have observed…

The dooms-dayer

With this reaction, everything is the worst-case scenario (or scenarios), and these are deemed to be happening right now and are real. Communication, (both direct and indirect), planning, and actions are based on this. 

The yo-yo-er

This person yo-yos from pessimism to optimism, either depending on the most recent person they have spoken to, or for no real identifiable reason at all. Obviously, with this perspective, communication and messages are inconsistent, which makes it very difficult to build action plans.

The ostrich

This person buries their head in the sand and appears oblivious to what is going on around them. The communication is based on business as usual, and there is no planning around potential scenarios.

The over analyser

This person finds comfort in numbers and ratios. While this is a crucial part of building action plans, it can lead to ‘analysis paralysis’. There may be confusion or overwhelm on what numbers are important at this time, and the fallout from focusing only on numbers can be substantial.

The eternal optimist

While there are benefits of having such a personality in the room, this is not just an ostrich who continues as normal; but the messaging is that everything will be fine and may even focus on the potential positive impacts. While it may be ideal to be the optimist, while also preparing and planning around potential negative impacts, the danger is that there is no acceptance and planning around the potential impacts on the business.   

In closing

The above is not to make light of the importance of how we communicate and plan for external impacts on our businesses. Instead, it’s recognition of the human emotional tendencies which are completely normal. However, as leaders, we need to recognise the impacts of us communicating emotionally or without recognising our personal reactive tendencies in our role as leaders. We need to understand that everyone in our businesses has differing reactions to stress which may or may not be the same as ours. Understanding our own reactions and acknowledging others’ potential tendencies will aid in building more effective communication and action plans both for our businesses, and our teams.

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