Much has been reported about stress and its relationship to health problems but what impact will it have on your career? Unchecked, it could lead to your ruin!
In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. – Lee Iacocca
Stress causes health problems such as heart disease, blood pressure and depression and can aggravate other health issues such as eczema. It can also show signs in cognitive function, emotional competence and behaviour – three dimensions of leadership essential for advancing your career.
1. Critical Thinking and Stress
If you’ve ever been under prolonged stress you’ll recognise the effects it can have on your cognitive ability:
- mental slowness
- general negative attitudes or thoughts
- constant worry
- your mind races at times
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty thinking in a logical sequence
- the sense that life is overwhelming; you can’t problem-solve
It’s fair to say that none of the abovementioned effects will enhance your career aspirations because the critical analysis of situations and problems requires clear, rational thinking involving critique. Critical Thinking is an essential leadership quality at risk when you are under prolonged stress.
2. Emotional Competence and Stress
Much has been written about emotional intelligence and its role in leadership but stress can sabotage out best efforts at managing our emotions. The emotional signs of stress include:
- no sense of humour
- jumpiness, over-excitability
- feeling overworked
- feeling overwhelmed
- sense of helplessness
It’s fair to say that none of the abovementioned effects would make you confident to exercise either personal or professional leadership.
3. Leadership and Mental Toughness
Everyone is likely to experience some stress in dealing with situations that are new to them, especially where risks are involved and the outcomes are unsure. A leader can experience new situations when they change jobs, get faced with a problem they haven’t met before, have to deal with complexity or ambiguity, are inexperienced in the role and even when the composition of their team varies.
If you are susceptible to stress, chances are it will not only impact negatively on your health, it will also ruin your career path to achieve leadership roles. Spending time and effort to develop mental toughness will benefit your career and you’ll have a greater chance to be living your “best life”.