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The Tipping Point of Stress And How It Can Make or Break Leaders

This student post was written by M.A. Ethical Leadership alumni, Jessica Mize.
Please see author bio at the end of post.

Stress.

5 letters that can wreak havoc in our lives.

We daily encounter the tipping point between loss of control or improved effectiveness due to stress.

Stress can break us or make us great. How we react can either cause harmful side effects or allow us to grow our leadership success.

How Leaders Experience Stress

The Harvard Business Review recently conducted a study on leaders that often experience stress.

Most leaders reported that prolonged stress caused harmful physical and emotional side effects.

Results included:

  • damaging impacts on effectiveness,
  • interactions, or
  • business outcomes.

Yet, other members experienced the opposite effect.  Stress tipped them in a positive direction, and their leadership outcomes improved.

The Difference Between the Effects of Stress

The difference?

The article focused on two key differences that separated people negatively affected by chronic stress from those with improved performance.

Tipping Point Awareness

Tipping point awareness is the critical moment when leaders notice their manageable stress approaches the edge of a breakdown.

Stress Shifting

Stress shifting is a tangible technique that leaders use that allows them to be in control of how they channel stress.

How to use stress for your benefit? Tipping point awareness & stress shifting. Click To Tweet

How to Make Stress Constructive Rather than Destructive

Recognizing the shift is the first step in making stress constructive rather than destructive.

For me, I become overloaded with items on my to-do list weekly.

I find that I physically tense up. First, in my shoulders, then in my back. I also notice an increase in heart rate.

I have learned to recognize the symptoms of my tipping point.

Once I recognize the tipping point, I use two practices that help me stress shift.

  • The first practice is breathing. I pause for a few moments to take deep breaths. This helps me regain control.
  • Next, I make a to-do list with my tasks. This helps me organize and gain control of what needs done. Each time I am able to cross off an item, a gain a sense of accomplishment and energy to keep going.
Two practices you can try for stress shifting: breathing & to-do lists. Click To Tweet

As a leader both at home and in the workforce, it is imperative for me to have a mindful response to stress. As an educator and parent, my reaction to stress is part of role modeling for the rising generation of leaders.

For all who lead, it is urgent we learn how to use stress for increased performance while keeping emotions in check.

Not only that, it is also for our own health and well-being.

Now, over to you.

How might your view of work change if you practiced tipping point awareness and stress shifting?

Try it for a week and post your results in the comments section.

Photo credit: © Anthony Hall | Dreamstime.com


About the Author

Jessica Mize is a recent graduate of Claremont Lincoln University’s Ethical Leadership Program. She works as the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence at the Brook Hill School. Brook Hill is a Christian, college prep, international boarding school with both day and boarding students representing over 20 countries. As the Director of the Academic Center for Excellence, Jessica uses and applies many elements of her Ethical Leadership degree. Jessica dialogues and collaborates with students and co-workers to meet the changing needs of students as well as creating proactive learning opportunities that allow students to lead in their learning. 

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