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Business leaders struggling with stress

Managing stress and emotions in the workplace is a major issue for those in senior positions

Nearly seven in 10 (67%) business leaders are struggling with stress and managing their emotions in the workplace, according to a survey by leadership development company Lee Hecht Harrison.

The research revealed 84% of senior managers, including business owners and directors, feel the need to curb their emotions and natural behaviour at work. This focus on stifling emotions is particularly acute in junior manager roles, with 90% reporting that they hold back their true feelings when dealing with colleagues.

Stress was found to be a contributing factor to the need to withhold emotions. Mainly created by workload, it was found to be an ongoing problem for managers, with two-thirds (67%) of respondents suggesting they struggle with stress.

When it came to managing conflict, business leaders claimed to be struggling with political correctness with 41% citing it as the biggest issue they face. By contrast, junior managers cited team jealously (37%) and toxic emotions (36%).

The research found that the more people a manager is responsible for, the more likely they are to be stressed. More than a third (36%) of managers feel stress once a working day when managing seven or more people. The optimum team size was found to be six, with those managing larger and smaller teams reporting more regular stress and pressure.

The research also found that four out of 10 (42%) junior managers admit to working on ‘autopilot’, which leaves them less conscious of their own thoughts (81%) and emotions (66%), and the subsequent impact on their teams and business.

Nick Goldberg, managing director, UK and Ireland of Lee Hecht Harrison, warned that today’s leaders are under huge pressure. “The need to drive businesses forward, hit their financial targets, and manage teams and individuals effectively is a tough balancing act,” he said. “This research shows the weight of emotional pressure leaders are under and the potential impact this can have on their effectiveness and the success of their business.”