Relieving Executive Anxiety

I’ve been coaching and advising executives and their teams for the past two-plus decades, and have often heard my share of worries and concerns. After all, leading a business over months, over years, is a whole hell of a lot harder than it seems from the outside looking in. When the buck stops with you, sleepless nights are the price you pay from time to time.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic has accelerated the relentless pace of change, the tumult of swinging from crisis era to crisis era, and all of it is starting to take its toll in ways I haven’t seen before. Weeks like this one certainly do not help.

The level of anxiety I see in today’s leaders is acute. Perhaps it is best summarized by the comments a successful leader recently shared with me: “Nour, this job just isn’t fun anymore. There are so many things to worry about and so many unknowns—so many seemingly intractable problems…”

Whether you’re feeling this way or not, here a few common-sense suggestions worth sharing:

  • Begin with yourself. Get a coach in your personal and professional growth journey. Ask others you like, trust, and respect for recommendations and referrals. No growth ever comes from a place of comfort and the global pandemic is an impetus to set your path toward becoming the best version of yourself… developing, among other things, your emotional intelligence, adaptability and resilience.

  • Double down on your supporting talent. Your direct reports will be force multipliers for you. Now is not the time to be carrying B and C players on your team. Find a more appropriate use for their talents or let them go.

  • Elevate your digital acumen – now! Every organization is now a digital organization, so you’ll need to know enough to ask the right questions of your technologists. Is your attitude towards technology one of fear or one of curiosity? Businesses must develop a digital workforce, treating technology more like a co-worker and collaborator, and less like a tool.

  • Prioritize the right strategic relationships. Control and anxiety are inversely related. The more you drive control of the right factors, the more manageable your anxiety and…the better your performance will be. Focus on fewer but more strategic relationships. You cannot make everyone happy!

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