Managing Stress and Humor as a Leader

A huge part of a leader’s job is to manage the level of stress in the workplace.Which means leaders must take the pulse of their workplace environment on a regular basis:

How are people feeling? How are people coping?  What are people saying about the level of stress at work when the leader is NOT in the room?  Are employees feeling overworked and underplayed?  Are some employees feeling under utilized and stressed because they are too bored? (Hey, it happens!) What are the sources of stress?

I am constantly amazed/stunned/shocked at how often leaders appear to be completely clueless about what the level of stress is in their workplace, either because they have isolated themselves in a bubble at the top, or because they don’t recognize the symptoms or because they haven’t created an open enough environment where employees feel they can talk about it or because they are simply, well, clueless and not seeing what’s happening around them.

Given the enormous cost of stress in the workplace, and not just the bottom line bucks in terms of absenteeism and reduced productivity, but also the loss of creativity and the impact on customer service and morale,  leaders need to consider the management of stress at work as one of their primary duties.

Which means leaders need to take an active role in reducing stress at work, by modeling appropriate behaviors and attitudes, by creating an environment that truly is respectful, by setting appropriate work/life balance boundaries, by setting clearly defined and support goals, and by creating an environment that really does value humor and fun in the workplace.

And if you truly value fun and humor as a leader, then it means learning to lighten up, taking yourself less seriously and laughing at yourself from time to time.

And it means not getting in the way of the spontaneous fun and humor that arises organically in most workplaces.

Remember, a leader is much like an orchestra conductor – they set the tone and pace for the rest of the ensemble!

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