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  • Writer's pictureFuture Legacies

Overcoming “Power Stress”

We have been coaching leaders for many years but have just recently encountered the term “power stress”.

Research by Richard Boyatzis and his colleagues from Case Western Reserve University suggests that leaders experience “power stress” – the potentially chronic stress that comes with working on things that are personally important, risky, and having others watching or critiquing as you seek to influence others.

Leadership requires one to exercise influence and power. Leaders must have an impact on others to make things happen, are responsible for their organizations’ well-being and are under continual scrutiny… all of which increase stress levels.

Those who head organizations rarely face clear, simple choices. Communication and decision-making are incredibly complex. Leaders are often called upon to achieve results while leading individuals over whom they have little authority, as well as work well with alliances and peers.

This is not limited to those is official leadership positions. It can include a thought leader, a leader of a project team, or any leader of a collaboration. Leaders can experience psychological and physiological effects from chronic power stress, and it can make it difficult to sustain the mental, emotional and behavioral process that enabled them to be effective.

However, Boyatzis says that coaching with compassion - focusing on others and helping them with their desired, intentional changes - can mitigate the psychological and physiological effects of chronic power stress.

Luckily, there is a way to alleviate power stress: coaching.

Dr Rebecca Newton, an organizational psychologist, says that coaching can be not only hugely beneficial for the person being coached; it can have powerful, positive effects on the person coaching. As a leader, building coaching into your career will not only help develop the people on your team, it is also likely to help you sustain your leadership effectiveness.

Newton has several tips on how to incorporate coaching into your leadership toolbox:

  1. Don’t think of coaching as all or nothing – coaching can be a 6-month commitment, or a 3-minute conversation. Incorporate a coach approach into your leadership style.

  2. Fight against taking open questions for granted – we can state what open-ended questions are but asking well-crafted open questions in a manner that is authentic, grounded in genuine interest and without judgement requests skill and intention. Powerful, open questions are one of the key foundations of coaching along with active listening.

  3. Use coaching to shift culture – to genuinely shift culture, leaders need to change the dynamic - to engage in a different way with the people in their teams.

At Future Legacy Partners, we not only coach individuals, but also train individuals to incorporate coaching into their leadership style. We’ve heard all the excuses as to why one doesn’t want to adopt a coaching style: “I don’t have time to coach” or “coaching, that’s just not me”. Once you adopt a coaching mindset, you see the benefits overpower the excuses:

  • Allows for mistakes to be made and learned from with open dialogue and positive feedback

  • Allows management to learn to lead by example

  • Enables employees to be encouraged to learn and develop new skills

  • Increases productivity as trust is established between employees and managers, minimizing micromanagement

  • Allows employees and management work together as a team to establish new goals and build momentum

  • Increases levels of trust, engagement, development and positivity

Coaching is a powerful tool for any person in a formal leadership role or leading an initiative – it doesn’t have to be time-consuming and it isn’t personality based or constrictive. As a professional, you have worked hard to establish yourself in your career. Now is the time to work on sustaining your effectiveness by adopting a coaching mindset.

Whether you want individual mentoring on your coaching skills, or you want to learn how to adopt a coaching mindset by attending a coaching workshop, reach out to us and let’s partner to build your coaching skills.


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Future Legacies, LLC, Business Coach, Jasper, AL