Effective leaders know that stress can be a good thing. It keeps you focused. It makes you competitive. It prompts action. If you’re walking into a big client meeting or giving an important speech and you aren’t at least a little anxious about it, you aren’t going to do a good job.
But stress can also turn toxic, especially in the brutal economic environment we’re in. Long hours, layoffs, and fear of what may be around the corner take a real toll. In more than 40 years of service in the military, higher education, and nonprofits, I’ve found that managing leadership stress comes down to a handful of critical elements: maintaining perspective, exercising, opening up, welcoming feedback, streamlining, and recharging. In trying to lead through this treacherous economy, I’m relying on those principles now more than ever.