Written by: Maureen Chiana, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Stress can often be inevitable as a leader, and its impact on decision-making, team engagement, and personal well-being can be significant. You need to manage stress effectively to succeed as a leader, not just for peace of mind but for your team's or organisation's efficiency and health.
"Leadership is not just about steering through the storm but also about calming the seas within oneself. It requires the ability to balance emotional intelligence with rational thought, akin to the serenity found in deep spiritual understanding." – Unknown
The role of emotional intelligence in stress management
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a cornerstone of effective leadership because it equips you to understand and manage your emotions and those of others. Emotional Intelligence involves recognising your stress triggers and emotional responses in yourself and others. Leaders high in Emotional Intelligence can effectively navigate stressful situations more calmly, enabling them to make clear decisions without being clouded by emotional reactions.
For instance, consider a leader with a critical project deadline causing them stress and anxiety. High Emotional Intelligence equips the leader to confidently acknowledge the stress and anxiety associated with this deadline personally and within the team and proactively address these emotions through open communication and being empathetic.
Understanding the brain's response to stress
Neuroleadership brings a scientific perspective to leadership skills, including stress management. It's understanding how our brain functions when under stress. When stressed, our brain tends to activate the fight-flight-or-freeze response, impacting our ability to think consciously, critically, and creatively. Mastering this equips leaders to make rational, well-considered decisions under pressure.
Therefore, leaders can engage in activities promoting mental and emotional health and resilience, such as mindfulness meditation, strategic thinking exercises, or even physical activities, to help reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone. These practices help in the immediate reduction or control of stress and also enhance the brain's capacity to handle future stress triggers effectively.
The wisdom found in scripture can offer profound insights into stress management. For example, "peace that surpasses all understanding" reinforces the importance of emotional Intelligence and the neuroleadership approach. It suggests a state of calm and clarity that can be achieved in challenging circumstances.
Reflection and meditation, often found in scriptural study, are about taking a step back, assessing the situation with a clear mind, and responding rather than reacting – a scientifically sound and spiritually grounded process.
Leadership is about navigating challenges; stress is one of the most pervasive. Harnessing the power of emotional Intelligence to manage stress and subtly integrating scriptural wisdom can help leaders develop a robust framework for overcoming stress and anxiety. This approach enhances personal well-being and sets a powerful example for teams, fostering a healthy, resilient, and productive work environment.
In conclusion, managing stress in leadership is not just about employing strategies and techniques; it's about cultivating an inner equilibrium that reflects scientific understanding and timeless wisdom.
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Maureen Chiana, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Maureen is the CEO and founder of The Mindsight Academy and host of Lead To Excel Podcast. She is a NeuroCoach, delivering Performance Enhancement Treatment [PET] by rewiring the brains of leaders to perform at their optimum.
She is a High Performance Coach, Corporate Consultant, Neuro-Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Specialist, an Award Winning Speaker, that leverages on Neuroscience insights of how the brain works, to empower leaders, executives, female founders and business owners to perform optimally and transform how they lead, work and live.
Maureen is passionate about helping people mitigate the biases that negatively affects them and their decisions, and her framework focuses on the Human Central Processing Unit – THE BRAIN, which helps leaders make better decisions ‒ especially under pressure ‒ thereby improving their overall or targeted performance.