3 Insights About Stress Every Leader Should Know

Who experiences greater levels of stress: non-leaders or the boss? When I ask this question while teaching workshops on leadership, nearly all the bosses in the room respond that they are the ones under greater stress. They’re wrong. Hard data makes it clear that non-leaders experience greater stress and in many instances it has a negative effect on their performance.

the word stress written in red pencil

 

Divided We Stand: Treating Corporate America’s Loneliness Epidemic

Lonely Woman

By Colton Perry

Since the time of the American Revolution, the phrase “united we stand, divided we fall” has been a popular motto of the United States. It was first written by John Dickinson in the 1768 Liberty Song, and suggests that in order to thrive, we must rely on one another.

While this is one of the most recognizable sayings in America today, it is common to see the opposite in practice. A nationwide survey published in the American Sociological Review in 2006 shows that despite our proud motto, Americans are lonelier now than ever before.

The Secret to Keeping Your New Year’s Health Resolution

Keeping New Year Resolutions_Woman Tired After Excercising

By Michael Lee Stallard and Katie Russell. As seen on Fox Business. 

Are you working on a New Year’s resolution to be healthier? ‘Tis the season for diets, gym memberships, and locating the running shoes that somehow got buried under a pile of other items in the deepest recesses of your closet (we won’t judge).

We all know the odds. Approximately 8 percent of New Year’s resolutions are actually kept, according to research from the University of Scranton. Yet somehow, year after year, we hope that our resolution will defy the odds and be one of those 8 percent.

Obviously, preparation is essential. You will find it hard to stick to your new diet if you haven’t prepared by filling your pantry with the right type of food. But even those who prepare often find themselves on the verge of giving up.

So what’s the secret to success? How do those who achieve their goals keep going, even when they feel like giving up?

3 Ways to Improve Your Health and Lifespan Through Work

happywork

As seen on SmartBlog on Leadership and Fox Business. 

Happiness is good, right? Researchers led by Stephen Cole at U.C.L.A recently made a stunning discovery. They studied the gene expression profiles of people who experienced happiness from seeking pleasure and those who experienced happiness from seeking meaningful purpose in life. While both pleasure and purpose seekers reported experiencing happiness at a conscious level, the gene expression profiles of the two groups’ told a different story.

The profiles of the purpose seekers exhibited low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong levels of antiviral and antibody genes. The pleasure seekers showed the opposite. Their profiles were consistent with people who are more likely to experience adverse health and premature death. 

Alone No Longer: Ten Years Later

Katie Stallard with daughters Elizabeth and Sarah

Katie Stallard with daughters Elizabeth (left) and Sarah (right)

Ten years ago today, my wife’s surgeon told me she had advanced ovarian cancer.  Today Katie is cancer free and flourishing in every way.  The experience of spending more time with my family and friends during that season of supporting Katie while she underwent treatment opened my eyes to the power of connection.  I wrote about it in “Alone No Longer.”

Since the time Katie was diagnosed and treated for advanced ovarian cancer, research published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology by Susan Lutgendorf, et. al., has shown that connection provides a survival advantage to ovarian cancer patients.

Reducing Effects of Stress Through Connection

Stress is harmful to your health, right?

Not always.

In this TED Talk, Psychologist Kelly McGonigal explains how viewing stress as a positive actually reduces the harmful effects of stress on your body. Reaching out and connecting with others during stressful times further reduces the harmful effects of stress, and can actually shield the body from potentially lethal damage. Connection truly plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing.

Kelly’s informative talk can be viewed below.

Neutralize “Killer Stress” to Boost the Bottom Line

Who experiences greater levels of stress: management or employees? Managers seem to think they do, but hard research data makes it clear: Employees experience greater stress, and that affects the company’s bottom line.

It doesn’t have to be that way: Effective leaders can create an organizational culture that reduces “killer stress” and encourages “challenge stress,” which produces gains in productivity and performance.

Despite its reputation, all stress is not bad. What we call “challenge stress,” actually stimulates people to perform at their best.

“Killer stress,” is the kind that comes from feeling like you don’t have control over your work. Killer stress is unhealthy and in many individuals triggers fight, flight, freeze or stalking behavior — not what good leaders want to find in their organizations.

Here are three actions you can take to reduce killer stress, increase challenge stress and boost your company’s bottom line. 

Neuro-Wifi: Power of Mutual Empathy

Happy Girl
#4 Feel Others’ Emotions

Mutual empathy is a powerful connector that is made possible by the mirror-neurons in our brains.  These neurons act like an emotional wifi system.  When we feel the emotions others feel it makes them feel connected to us.   When we feel their positive emotions, it enhances the positive emotions they feel.  When we feel their pain, it diminishes the pain they feel.  If someone expresses emotion, it’s okay, and natural, for you to feel it.

Here are some examples.  A colleague at work does a fantastic job on a project. Be happy for them and take that emotion with you when you go tell them what a great job they did.  When they feel you are happy about their success, it will enhance the joy they feel and create a bond between the two of you.

Here are a couple examples that apply at home.  Your daughter tells you she worked hard, persevered and  received an A in a really hard class.  Feel her joy. Give her a high five, a fist bump, a hug, pick her up and spin her around.  Tell her how awesome she is and how proud you are of her.  It will elevate her joy and  she will feel your love for her.  She will also feel more connected to you, and this, research has shown, will help make her more resilient, more creative, a better problem solver, less likely to drink alcohol or engage in sex during her adolescence.  How’s that for an incentive?   Also, when she pokes her head in your home office or wants to talk while you are reading the newspaper or checking your email, stop what you’re doing, focus on her and listen attentively.  If she is feeling down, try to feel her emotion.  If she senses that you feel what she does, it will make her feel better and connect the two of you even more. How great is that!

This is the fourth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others.  Although the attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Note: Photo from Flickr