Have you ever wondered how some leaders breeze through tough situations, never appearing stressed? It all comes down to being emotionally strong.
All leaders must deal with stress, but the very best leaders handle the ups and downs with ease, letting things slide off their backs with resiliency, grace, and grit.
How do these leaders get to the place where stress doesn’t consume them day in and day out? That’s the topic of this week’s Advice from a CEO on Reflect Forward. Because if you want to be an executive leader, especially in the C-Suite, you’ve got to be able to manage stress well.
During the episode, I share my top tips, which include:
I know this is a foreign concept to so many people, and it may sound selfish, but it is not. If you are not taking care of yourself, you cannot care for other people. If you want to be an exceptional leader, you can’t just push and push yourself. Constant pushing leads to burnout and stress and increases the chance of reacting poorly to a stressful situation.
Be Clear About What You Want
So often, people can’t make changes in their lives because they don’t know what they want. If you don’t know what you want, it’s hard to say no to things. And when too much piles up on your plate, it’s hard to manage stress. Because I know what I want out of my life, I can prioritize the things that are important to me and say no to everything else, which builds up my emotional strength. Remember, no is a complete sentence and saying no more often will help you manage your stress.
Focus, Focus, Focus
The only way to manage stress and increase your emotional strength is to focus, and I recommend using a tool that helps you remain focused on your most important tasks. I’ve mentioned before that I love Asana, and I track all my weekly tasks in Asana, and I feel accomplished every time I mark a task complete and a unicorn flies by telling me what a great job it did. To handle stress well, you need to ensure that the quality of your working hours is high. When you feel like you are working on the right things, you can better handle curveballs when they come your way because you can deal with them and then get back on track quickly.
Stop Feeling Sorry For Yourself
This piece of advice may sound harsh, but it’s true. If you want to be a leader worth following, you can’t feel sorry for yourself. Your job is hard and thankless, and it comes with great responsibility. You have to let things slide off your back. Everyone will have an opinion about you, but your job is to make good decisions for your team and company, not manage people’s opinions. Your job is to model what it’s like to take feedback well. Your job is to lead, so lead with confidence. Remain even-keeled. Use my mantra always to be cool, calm and collected.
The number one cause of stress for leaders is rumination – where we just can’t stop thinking about a negative situation. We lose sleep replaying conversations or imagining all the terrible things that will happen tomorrow. To be an emotionally strong leader, you must break this habit. Go for a walk. Write down what you want to say or how you want to handle the situation to get it out of your head and on paper. Read a book to distract yourself. Mediate or do breathing exercises. Talk it through with your spouse or a trusted friend. But don’t let yourself spin – not if you want to manage your stress well and move through tough situations easier.
What Are Your Triggers
Finally, learn about what triggers you. I began working with a coach who helped me understand what triggered me and why it changed my life and leadership style. Why? Because I could stop myself from getting upset because I understood my emotional response. The best way to stop reacting and start responding appropriately – cool, calm and collected – is to know why you are getting aggravated and then have the tools to control yourself in the moment, breaking your patterns and increasing your emotional strength.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Great leaders delegate and ask for help. But many think that doing these things is a sign of weakness, and the truth is, it’s just the opposite. Emotionally strong leaders are not afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks off their plates.
Question of the Week
This week’s question comes from one of my employees who asks, “How do I get better at giving presentations?” I share my tips, so be sure to listen to the end!
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