In the current business environment, the level of executive stress is on the rise, which negatively affects the quality of thinking and performances.
In order to thrive and contribute most effectively to the success of their organisations, senior executives must be all of the following:
- Good strategists who can identify the paths that the business needs to travel
- Good architects, to design an organisation’s structure, systems and processes that will shape the behaviour of employees in a way that’s necessary for the strategy to be effectively deployed
- Able to mobilise their immediate team and the organisation.
These qualities can be developed over time through coaching, mentoring and experiences on the job, with some formal education, too. Some people propose a 70:20:10 ratio of job assignments, mentoring and education as the most effective formula.
Top managers no longer seen as omniscient and omnipotent
Executives are increasingly aware of the limitations of top management’s ability to deal with all the challenges they face. We’ve all seen top managers make promises they were unable to keep and try to deploy change initiatives that didn’t go far. Top managers are no longer seen as omniscient and omnipotent.
The crisis of confidence among the rest of society is more severe, with the general public becoming increasingly cynical about the willingness and ability of business and political elites to do what’s right for society.
Stand up for your staff - and work for them
So, as a leader, how can you navigate turbulent times? Begin by remembering that your privileges come with responsibility. Despite the stress associated with your role, many studies show that the damage created by this is less at the top of an organisation than it is at the lower end. Society expects you to behave in ways that benefit the greater good and your career progress should be a means to an end, not the end in itself.
At a more micro level, if you want your staff to respect you, stand up for them and work for them. Make sure your schedule does not become an uninterrupted series of meetings punctuated with exhausting trips. Manage this and yourself to make sure you can still think effectively and allocate as much time and energy as possible to what is important instead of just what is urgent.
Finally, devote time and energy to your own personal development and to gaining new skills. In a world that is changing rapidly, your best asset is your ability to keep learning and developing your leadership abilities.