Overcoming Obstacles in the Workplace Series: Stress Management for Leaders


“To experience stress is normal, but to work in a constant state of stress is optional.”

According to a recent Korn Ferry survey, employee stress levels have increased 20% in three decades. Leaders are no exception to this statistic.  When you’re on the grind, working day in and day out can wreak a fair bit of havoc on you and your motivation. Whether it’s your co-workers, direct reports, leadership or the workload, it’s an occupational hazard that at least one of these may begin to chip away at your motivation, will power and patience. There’s no escaping the fact that your workplace will occasionally stress to your life.

It is also inevitable that these feelings will affect your performance, whether it’s in the form of a bad mood, or even just downright carelessness. It’s a pretty normal reaction to the workplace environment. For this reason, it is imperative to understand how to manage stress levels to ensure a healthy work lifestyle and continued productivity levels for you and your team.

Know How to Identify Your Stress Triggers

When you are confronted with a workplace stressor, how many times have you made a conscious decision to forge ahead and deal with the emotional aspects at a later date, rather than processing those feelings and reacting to the situation at the very moment they occur?   How many times have you simply “vented” to a co-worker rather than addressing the issue?  Although ‘venting’ is great; it’s probably not the most productive reactions to the situation.

The fact is, when difficult situations come up, you can chose to take an assertive path to alleviate the stressor. You are in control.

Prioritize Your Activities and Communicate

When workload is heavy, it is common for employees to have check lists of items they need to complete for any given day. Often times these lists are not prioritized. Failing to set the level of importance for each task may result in the most pressing items not being completed in a timely manner.  Ensure you are crystal clear in your top priority tasks and clearly communicate them with your team.  Make a point when assigning tasks to share the order of importance as well as the tasks at hand. This transparency will be helpful in the long run for both you and your employees.

Effectively Delegate Tasks

While we all would love to wear the superhero cape, we need to understand our own limitations and delegate to our team.  You have spent a great deal of time hiring the talented individuals on your team.  Let them help you.

Accept Things Out of Your Control

This can be challenging but so very worth it!!

Maintain Grace Under Pressure

There are several things in life we cannot control, but our behavior is not one of them.  All of us possess a significant degree of control over our actions and reactions and we can consciously change the way we’re interpreting our surroundings to make the best of them.

This is extremely critical because employees tend to emulate the behavior of their leaders.  A stressed leader can create poor employee morale and decrease employee engagement and productivity.  When you maintain grace under pressure, you demonstrate a calm-headedness and coolness that is required of anyone deserving of a leadership position.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

We all know this is critical to decreasing stress levels; however, most of us do not consistently follow this tip because we are all “too busy”.  When you research the top leaders across industries, one of the common denominators is maintaining a healthy lifestyle – exercise, eat right, rest and relax. The reality is no one can maintain peak operating performance without making healthy lifestyle choices on a consistent basis.



During the course of one’s career, you can count on there being multiple obstacles in the journey from internship to retirement .  Managing stress should not be one of them.

International Search Consultants  is a leading executive recruitment company operating across the United States. We work with companies to help fill high-level executive positions based on business trajectories and future organizational plans. Get in touch with us today for more information on our services or to work with us as your HR consultancy.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants and can be reached via direct dial at 888-866-7276, or by email at

Lisa Finch is an Executive Recruiter at ISC with a focus on Financial Services as well as a veteran recruiter in Energy Recruiting. Lisa can be reached at 888-771-1488 or