It’s been said, “If you want to be a great leader, be present.” Do you agree? As we continue to dive into this blog series’ theme of self-management, I’d like to focus on the importance of stress management to ensure mental presence at work. This has been a big challenge for leaders during this year of the pandemic!
As mentioned in my previous blog, after the year-end crunch, leaders reflect on their professional accomplishments and disappointments. Additionally, they spend time focusing on the personal and professional development of their team members. However, in order to be fully involved in all these reflective and planning activities, it is essential to be mentally present. Effectively managing stress helps achieve this.
Negative Effects of Stress
I’ve covered the negative effects of stress many times in my blogs. As a refresher, here a few symptoms of stress from Stress.org that I feel have the greatest potential to affect mental presence.
Irritability / Overreaction
A sense of being overwhelmed
Lack of Mental Presence at Work
In order to focus on the professional development of your team members, you’ll undoubtedly have one-to-one meetings with them. Without proper stress management, stress builds. Subsequently, depending on your personal physiology, this can lead to physical absences from work. Of course, not being present inhibits your efforts in their development.
Even if you are physically present at work, built up stress can cause your mind to wander. This can be disastrous during one-on-one meetings. In fact, a wandering mind can elicit several physical and mental reactions (poor body language, not comprehending key conversation points, inability to read the body language of others and be appropriately responsive) that can ultimately upset your team members.
At the end of the day, the effects from lack of mental presence amount to one thing for your team members: reductions in levels of confidence and trust in your leadership abilities.
Here are a few stress management tips to help you be present while at work:
Be Mindful- Imagine a day full of meetings. And following an emotionally charged meeting with senior leadership, you have one-on-ones scheduled with team members. Mindfulness allows you to enter the one-on-ones without lingering emotions from the prior meeting. In the end, this increases your mental presence and allows you to actively listen and participate in the meetings.
Sleep- According to the CDC, more than one-third of American adults are not sleeping enough on a regular basis (7+ hours per day)! Sleep deprivation can affect your brain functioning, emotional well-being, physical health, and daytime performance and safety. Consistent and adequate sleep helps ensure you have the energy to perform your duties as a leader.
Disconnect- This can be done two ways. The first is to simply disconnect or turn off devices. The other is accomplished by tackling the underlying feelings that tell you staying "plugged in" and "up to date" is necessary. Either way, without the constant bombardment of text, emails, and IMs, you can focus your attention on your surroundings. Disconnecting and using the time wisely is a great way to relieve stress.
Learn to say “no”- Learning to say this two-letter word is difficult for some. However, it’s a necessary skill. If you don’t have the bandwidth to take on another assignment say so. If you have no choice but to accept the work, tell others about your concerns. In the end, perhaps an agreement to split the work is feasible.
Stress management is a very important part of self-management especially during 2020. It allows you to have mental as well as physical presence with your team especially if most employees are still working from home. Ultimately, it is your mental presence that is crucial during times of reflection and certainly while discussing the professional development of your employees, especially during a pandemic.
If you’d like to discuss the benefits of stress management for leadership, contact me.