(Expansion) – Many people say that the leader is born, others that he makes himself. The truth is that although there are people who, due to their aptitudes and attitudes, have an easier time projecting themselves as leaders, that is not enough; leadership is something you learn on the fly and you have to work on every day. And it’s not reading a book.
Since the pandemic, the world turned upside down, this period (among many other things) allowed companies to reflect on their way of working, both operationally and in the human aspect. Psychosocial problems rose like foam and it is that just a few years ago stress and anxiety was a problem that everyone knew, they knew it was there, how it could affect their collaborators, but few companies took action on the matter.
Currently, the panorama is different, little by little mental health is positioned as a priority issue in companies, from large corporations to the smallest. However, much remains to be done, particularly when it comes to mental health and leadership.
There are various studies and reports -even from international organizations- in which the impact of stress on work teams is discussed, but what happens when the one who is ‘on fire’ is the leader?
The article published by Harvard Business Review shows that optimal rest considerably improves the level of leadership, since about 42% of leaders worldwide sleep six hours a day or less, well below the eight hours recommended by specialists doctors.
Research shows that lack of sleep causes various physical and mental health problems that go beyond the individual and that are extrapolated to their entire work team, and therefore to the entire company. “When managers lose sleep, their employees’ experiences and performance also decline,” the report states.
Within the framework of the International Day of the Boss, which is commemorated every October 16, it is worth reflecting on your health and how your leadership impacts other people, companies, industries and the economy in general. It is not an exaggeration! Just look at how stress levels in countries like Japan are triggering problems such as Karoshi Syndrome (death from work) and are costing the economy millions of dollars.
In Mexico, it is estimated that problems related to stress, anxiety or chronic fatigue cost organizations 16,000 million pesos annually.
One day makes a difference
Leaders, particularly mid-level leaders, are often under great pressure, from meeting team goals to being accountable to higher-ups. However, chronic stress can lead them to make poor decisions, be unproductive, increase the workload for their co-workers, give unclear instructions, and even be less tolerant or patient. All this roller coaster of emotions can happen in a single day.
We often read articles that talk about how great leaders are those who inspire, motivate and bring out the best in each person on their team. Can a stressed leader inspire and bring out the best in a person, when the face he shows is not the best? of himself? The answer is obvious: of course not.
From hero to superhero
A stressed leader is a symptom of a sick company. In this way, it is essential that companies contemplate permanent programs of care and prevention of psychosocial risks, and that in these, leaders are also considered, because to the extent that a leader has low levels of stress, his managerial capacity will have greater clarity and direction.
The different ways of caring for leaders can include issues of exercise and nutrition, but also spaces to air their issues: the great leaders in the world have advisors and coaches in different specialties around them. It is even recommended that CEOs take one to two weeks a year just to think: they will do nothing but think. It is well known that a leader under stress sometimes does not even have time to think, how can he make decisions if he does not stop to reflect?
Leaders can be the heroes that lead a company to the pinnacle of success. It is no secret that today the challenges facing companies are highly challenging. Taking care of the leaders is to ensure that these heroes become superheroes immune to everything, even their ‘kryptonite’ called stress.
Editor’s note: Saskia de Winter is a founding partner and CEO of Saskia de Winter Training. Follow her on . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.