What is the relationship between leadership and stress?

In a rapidly changing world where individuals and communities live 24 by 7, communicate with different cultures at increasing internet speeds, work two to three jobs a day just to support a standardized lifestyles, leaders take the toll a level higher. Stress is evident in leadership brought about by both internal and external elements. But stress and leadership cannot be taken apart. These two elements interact and connive to bring out the best and the worst in the individual who is mandated to show the vision and lead the way no matter what.
“Stress levels rocketed in 2005 – all around the world, whether economic activity was picking up or slowing down,” said Andrew Godfrey, partner at Grant Thornton. Keeping up with fast growth or combating recession are both equally stressful, although Asian business leaders are under particular strain, as their businesses and markets continue to show phenomenal growth.” (BBC, 2006)
But John C. Maxwell relates adversity that causes stress as great opportunities for leaders to develop the limits of their potential. When leaders find themselves stressed out, their wisdom is challenged because it is those very moments when an individual gives in to his weaknesses. But for leaders who are experienced enough they would very well know what to do when they find themselves in the middle of a stressful situation.

Congruently, leaders would often times cause stress themselves as they aim for more efficient, effective and economical ways of leading the community or the team. In this light, stress becomes a tool of the leader to forge new paths, new solutions and innovations to help the team reach their goals. In many ways, stress and leadership has always been in tandem with each other. The relationship between these two concepts has essentially led to greater heights of civilization, socialization and camaraderie between individuals, groups and cultures. At best, stress and leadership has always forged man to develop into the best possible leaders an individual can become.
BBC News. (2006, February 17) Business stress levels ‘double’ BBC News Retrieved October 30, 2006, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4720684.stm
Blanchard, Kenneth Ph.D. and M.D. Spencer Johnson. 1983. The One Minute Manager. Berkley Trade
Maxwell, John C. 2003. Real Leadership: The 101 Collection. Maxwell Motivation Inc. Georgia.

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