Bottom-line: stress can be good. Wise leaders leverage good stress for the sake of those they lead and the mission they are leading. But how can you tell the difference between good stress and bad stress? Here are three differences between good stress and bad stress.
“Working for him is stressful.”
“Her leadership stresses me out.
You have likely heard those statements before, and they are almost always uttered in disdain about a leader who is putting too much pressure on people, setting unrealistic goals, or holding people to expectations that are deemed to be too high.
But great leaders put stress on the people they lead… the good kind of stress.
Let me explain. I first read about some stress being good for the mind in Spark, by John Ratey. The book is about the importance of exercise and how it impacts the brain by enabling better thinking, fighting anxiety, and building tolerance for stress. Just as some controlled amounts of stress on your muscles while working out builds muscle, stress on your mind builds your capacity to handle more stress.
There is actually a name for good stress; it is called eustress while the bad stress is aptly called distress. Eustress is known as beneficial stress. Maybe you felt the good stress before a big football or basketball game in high school, and it raised your focus and intensity. Or maybe you faced a looming deadline on a project and the stress caused you to pull together your best work. Or maybe the stress of a goal caused the team to rally around the goal and give great thinking and creativity to the goal.
Bottom-line: stress can be good. Wise leaders leverage good stress for the sake of those they lead and the mission they are leading. But how can you tell the difference between good stress and bad stress?