Stress Buster 1

The business planning season is upon us.  The upside is that it is career enhancing.  You get to present yourself and your great plan to senior leadership.  The downside is that it can be stressful.  Common worries are thoughts of conflict, being caught out in some way or being criticised.

Here are some practical tips to reduce the stress and do well!

  1. Reduce the task – be clear on the process – find out what’s expected at each stage, how many slides, how much time, is there a format and what level of detail is required.  Ensure you receive the correct information and keep in touch to discover what the latest news is.
  2. Tune in and personalise – who do you need to influence and what are their biggest hopes, worries and bug bears?  Let this knowledge drive the approach and content.  And it’s better to tackle the ‘elephant in the room’ than try to avoid it.  Try to anticipate those tricky questions and work out how to answer them well.
  3. Pre sell – who do you need to talk to ahead of any formal meeting to get them on side?  Make these discussions a real priority.
  4. Communicate value in line with business goals – many problems arise simply because people genuinely do not understand what value your recommendations deliver.  Make this crystal clear and bring your recommendations to life in a compelling way.
  5. Reframe the situation – whatever your concerns, ask yourself: can I see this a different way – where is the opportunity?  And ask yourself, do I have hard evidence for this concern – can I think about it more accurately?
  6. Think ‘One Tribe’ and assume trust –  even if the situation is tough it’s more effective to go in thinking and physically behaving as if you  are on the same team, with the same goals and the same ultimate outcome.
  7. Take care of yourself – ensure you get enough breaks, sleep and good food, find things to make you laugh, talk to someone you trust and get some fresh air.  You’ll do better than if you stay glued to your computer.

You can be an exceptional communicator.  It’s absolutely possible.  Find out more about our presentations, personal presence and gravitas course here.

Fake Positivity is a Poor Strategy for Leaders

When good leaders feel stressed or overwhelmed, should they hide the negative emotions they may be experiencing?

No, suggests research by Sigal Barsade, a management professor at Wharton. She describes the concept of ‘emotional labour’, the effort that people at work put in stopping their emotions from becoming public.

There are two strategies for doing this: ‘surface acting’ and ‘deep acting’.

The first strategy (essentially, faking positivity like professional smiling) can cause more stress and even burnout.

The second strategy (showing emotions that people have worked on feeling which are authentic, such as empathy) is likely to be healthier, because less emotional exhaustion is involved.

Most leaders experience high levels of stress, so avoiding more is vital to remaining at your best. If things are going badly, leaders should protect themselves by using the second strategy, she advises. Be authentic (honest) and positive (optimistic) about the seriousness of the situation. Employees will appreciate and take comfort from this behaviour.

Source: Sigal Barsade, D. E. Gibson (2007), Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? Academy of Management Perspectives