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Being a leader is rewarding; you are in charge of others and can influence the business’ outcomes more readily than most. However, this can also come with a lot of added stress, it’s the paradox of delegation – the context that as you delegate the easy stuff, the stuff you are left with is more complicated and more demanding. If something goes wrong, you will be the one that takes the lead on fixing it as well as telling the Board. You have the most responsibility in the team, and you are also likely to have few, if any peers, with whom to share the daily ups and downs of the role.  With all of this stress that you are under, you will have to learn the art of stress management. Here are a few ways that you can handle all that added weight on your shoulders without needing to book an expensive day at the spa (although spa days are great self-care!).

Prioritize Your Personal Needs

It has been proven time and time again that you will be unable to lead others if you don’t look after your own personal needs. It is understandable that as a leader, you want to do what is in the best interest for your group or the business. However, if there is a problem in your personal health, wellbeing or things going wrong at home, you need to address that in order to free up your mental focus for work. You will do your company a great service by ensuring that you are okay first. Prioritize your individual needs first before you tackle the problems of the business, this includes putting your health first, if you need to see a doctor, take the time off work and go, if physical activity helps you maintain your physical health then blocking out gym time is essential and protect it religiously. If something is stressing you at home, look to fix that issue and protect the time you need to make it happen. Otherwise, you bring that added stress to work, you will end up amplifying the stress because it will be niggling at your mind and it will impact your work negatively.

Work With People Who Understand

Have a team that knows how to empathize with others. Not only that, but realize that you don’t need to tackle issues on your own. Play to your teammates’ strengths and ensure that you bring them on for projects that they would excel on. Don’t feel that as a leader you need to struggle on your own, nor that you have to hide issues from your team, especially your direct reports. Being honest and authentic about your weaknesses as well as your strengths is not going to damage your leadership and with most teams will help them see you as someone who is authentic. You are given a team to work with, so ensure you utilize them to their fullest extent. When you have the right people around you, you have a better team, and they can help you during your times of need. For example, if you aren’t the greatest with technology and you are given a task that deals strictly with that, delegate the assignment to a member of your team that excels with it. That way you don’t put undue stress on yourself when you struggle to finish the task. But don’t forget to work with them so you can improve your skills and knowledge.

Effectively Manage Expectations

Managing stress entails that you know how to handle expectations. Many individuals, especially young entrepreneurs, want instant success without taking a moment to assess the realistic nature of what they want to achieve. If you set attainable goals and reach them, they can slowly but surely build the confidence that you need to see your business prosper. Trying to chase something that is unreasonable will stress you out and affect your business practice. Take the time to learn how to reset expectations with members of your team and external sources, such as customers, other businesses, or clients.  It’s often said you can’t boil the ocean, but it is a difficult adage to hear and really absorb, but it is true and your team will really value a clear path and trajectory of change as much as those you report to.

At the end of the day, only you can address your own stress levels, because you control how you respond to situations and you are the one who can make decisions about how to handle the challenges, personal and professional.  Setting out each day with the clear intention to find balance and pay attention to your own needs is essential to being a good leader, it’s not easy, but it is essential to good leadership.