I can tell you from my experience as a leadership coach that many leaders suffer from anxiety. If we’re being honest, everyone experiences anxiety to some degree. I make sure my coaching clients have the tools they need to manage their anxiety because left unchecked, it can do great damage to their decision-making ability and overall effectiveness. Here are some of the techniques I share with them for managing anxiety:
Acknowledge your anxiety without denying it. Anxiety never shows up without a reason. So invite it in and try to understand why it’s manifesting right now. Ignoring your feelings and pushing them away never works. Instead, acknowledge your anxiety so you can begin to address it and manage it.
Accept your anxiety without attachment. It’s not unusual to internalize anger along with anxiety. But the best way to ease the stress is to accept it without blame. If it makes you uncomfortable, name it. Because the more you try to control your anxiety, the harder it fights back. Avoid the tug of war by learning how to detach yourself and accept your anxiety. When you do, you’ve already made progress in moving through it.
Surf the wave without getting swallowed up by the current. It may be impossible to get rid of your anxiety. As frustrating as that can feel, part of managing anxiety is understanding that you may not be in top form until things settle down. The goal is to learn to surf the waves of distress without being overwhelmed by their power.
Watch for patterns and label your feelings. For most of us, anxiety comes with a pattern. It may be that stress leads to fear which leads to anxiety. Or it may be that something doesn’t work out, your perfectionist tendencies lead you to anger, and anxiety follows. Look for your individual patterns so you can label and understand the events and emotions that lead up to anxiety.
Learn your telltale signs. When you’re feeling anxious, take note of your physical reactions. They often function as an early warning system to alert you to imminent anxiety. It might be a stomach flip, tense shoulders, or an inability to focus. Once you learn to recognize your physical symptoms, you can catch anxiety before it overtakes you.
Let go of controlling anxiety and work to manage it. Victor Frankl famously said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Instead of working to control the situation, choose your response. Make a conscious decision to manage your anxiety by breathing, shifting your attention, and taking small purposeful actions.
Many leaders emphasize their strength, competence, and credentials in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be great if more of them opened up about how they learned to manage anxiety?
Lead from within: Anxiety makes leadership interesting, but managing anxiety makes leadership meaningful—for you and for those you lead.
#1 N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
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Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.