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Leaders’ stress can have a negative effect on employees’ job performance

April 2017

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One thousand college-educated U.S. employees recently responded to questions about their bosses’ ability to handle stress, their contributions to the workplace, and their own work experiences, in a March 2017 study conducted by workforce consulting firm Life Meets Work.

According to the survey site, “Managers provide direction, assessment, and motivation for the teams they support. If managers don’t have the skills to handle stress, then everyone working for that manager has lost a critical resource for getting their jobs done.”

The results of the survey indicated that stress on leaders ripples throughout entire organizations, creating a harmful atmosphere and a negative effect on employees. More than 50% of the respondents indicated that a leader who is unable to manage stress effectively is either harmful or irrelevant to their job and the overall performance of the organization. When a leader is adept at managing stress, only 10% of respondents held the same opinion.

Employees also indicate that a stressed leadership lowers their ambition to advance within the organization. While 79% of employees with resilient leaders want to have a more senior role, only 55% of employees with stressed leaders indicated a desire to advance.

According to Kenneth Matos, psychologist and Vice President of Research for Life Meets Work, companies often focus on fixing individual employees to help them be less stressed and therefore more engaged, whereas employee engagement appears to be better predicted by the leader’s ability to manage stress than the employee’s current stress level.

Among other leadership competencies, managers were rated on their ability to manage stress, tolerate frustration and ambiguity, adapt to change, and present as confident, enthusiastic, and optimistic. The complete report can be downloaded here.

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