Mental health and reducing stress have become top priorities in the modern workplace. However, while leaders are attempting to ensure the mental health of their employees, they often forget about their own. If a leader doesn’t pay attention to their own mental health, it not only affects their well-being but can also lead to poor decisions that trickle down the company ladder.
To help you deal with this issue, 14 Business Journals Leadership Trust members share their best tips for dealing with the pressures of leadership. Follow their recommendations if you find yourself feeling stressed in your leadership position.
1. Adopt a service mindset.
There is no substitute for spending your life in the service of others — especially when it is your own people. Also, make sure you have a good coach and a peer group of like-minded CEOs you can confide in and share the journey with. It isn’t easy. There are burdens of leadership that most people don’t understand. Be strong and stay the course. It is worth it. – Jonathan Keyser, Keyser
2. Reach out for support.
Be sure to stay connected and reach out for support when you need it. The best leaders don’t lead alone. Keep your support system strong and you will be, too. – Erika Clark Jones, ADAMH Board of Franklin County
3. Join a peer group.
I am a huge fan of peer groups. I have been actively involved in a CEO roundtable for over 25 years. The camaraderie built over time by discussing our common issues reinforces the idea that I am not alone. We share business and personal successes and failures. Having access to a group that will challenge and support me has been a huge part of my success. – Jon Schram, The Purple Guys
4. Seek balance in your life.
Finding balance in your life is important. Finding time for business, family, friends and self is key to maintaining energy levels and mental clarity. Your business is important, but if you do not look after all other aspects of your life, what is the point? I maintain my balance by running, hiking and cooking dinner for my family. – Zane Stevens, Protea Financial
5. Take time to disconnect from work.
I try to disconnect from work for a couple of hours to try new things or go to the gym. During the pandemic, I started binge-watching old and new shows. It not only took my mind off stressful situations, but I used them as ice-breakers in virtual networking meetings or calls with clients. Who knew Billions, The Queen’s Gambit or Schitt’s Creek would help open doors to new business opportunities? – Parna Sarkar-Basu, Brand and Buzz Marketing
6. Control your expectations.
Sometimes high-pressure situations develop because of unrealistic expectations. Top leaders know how they can manage expectations. They recognize how to say no and when to say yes. – Wesleyne Greer, Transformed Sales
7. Practice mindfulness.
I practice yoga and mindfulness to get by on a day-to-day basis. Fortunately, my wife is a business owner too, and it’s been invaluable to be able to bounce ideas off one another. I just joined YPO to have a forum of peers to lean on as well. Many other organizations offer similar opportunities for business leaders to connect and grow. – Todd Marks, Mindgrub
8. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
As a member of the leadership team, you might feel like you need to be able to do everything yourself, but you don’t. Micromanagement isn’t necessary. The most efficient leaders know how to delegate a project to their direct reports to get it done and alleviate some of the pressure. When you have a team you trust, you have support from every level. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
9. Practice your ability to stay calm.
Staying calm even in difficult times has helped me overcome stressful situations. It’s wise to practice staying calm, analyzing the situation and handling it accordingly. Recently I have found that dance exercises help me feel refreshed and allow my brain to reset from all anxiety and stress. For others, it can be any exercise — biking, swimming or running. Exercise is a great way to maintain mental health. – Taslema Sultana, Haystack Lodgings
10. Don’t bottle everything up.
One thing leaders do that can undermine their mental health is to keep everything in. Asking for advice, sharing concerns, or maybe talking to peers or a coach can mitigate the loneliness at the top as well as build empathy and context for the person’s team. You don’t (and sometimes can’t) share everything, but asking for help has a variety of benefits. – Joe DeSensi, Educational Directions
11. Have accountability partners.
I have been in a peer group organization for several years. Recently our group decided to create subgroups — specifically, accountability groups. We meet monthly as a large group and weekly in small groups. Between our weekly meeting and Slack, my peers and I have an outlet for the pressures we all face. – Jason Comstock, Clarity Technology Solutions LLC
12. Find the work method that works for you.
I give myself permission to work in the way that works for me — regardless of whether it works for everyone else — and I encourage my people to follow suit. By channeling my anxiety, I have learned to use it as a force of creation. I use my brain in this heightened state for good and put it to better use. It’s how I balance my well-being as well as my team’s. – Keri Higgins-Bigelow, livingHR, Inc.
13. Attend leadership retreats.
Leadership retreats are a time when you can disconnect from day-to-day operations. You can work on strategic objectives without interruptions to solidify what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.
14. Bring in someone who can take on what you struggle with.
I realized a couple of years ago I was trying to do too much, including some things that I wasn’t very good at. Those were the areas that created the most stress — they caused more than a few sleepless nights. I finally decided to bring on a strong No. 2 who complements my strengths and compensates for my weaknesses. I’ve slept much better since. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove