Even the most successful leaders have to come up with techniques for coping with stress and dealing with high-pressure situations. Twelve women executives share their tactics for being effective leaders during any situation in an article for Fast Company:
Meghan Joyce, Uber‘s Regional Manager for the United States and Canada
Joyce says that when she’s anxious, talking things out with a trusted friend or colleague almost always calms her down. “Having a buddy who you can trust, who understands what you’re going through, will provide you with a safe space, a sounding board, and good advice when you need it most,” she explains.
Gillian Munson, XO Group‘s Chief Financial Officer
Munson recommends pausing to take a breath during high-stress situations. She explains that this gives her a chance to accurately assess the situation, diffuse tension, and engage in a more meaningful, focused conversation. “Solid interpersonal communication is made worse by rushing. Slow down, try to internalize what all the players involved are trying to accomplish—this perspective always helps me,” says Munson.
Sunni Goodman, Mattress Firm‘s Senior Vice President of Communications and Custom Experience
Goodman takes a similar approach to Munson; she temporarily removes herself from stressful situations to clear her mind. “High-stress moments can bring out the worst in some people, and it can be easy to overextend or respond aggressively. Stepping away for a moment helps bring a fresh perspective and allows me to provide a proportional response to the situation at hand,” says Goodman.
Elle Lanning, KIND Snacks‘ CEO and the Senior Vice President of Development
To make the most out of any situation, Lanning chooses to think positively and believe the best of people. “Reminding yourself that folks have the best intentions can help take the stress and emotion out of any situation because, at the end of the day, everyone is showing up with the same goals in mind,” she notes.
Nichol Beckstrand, Sunrise Banks‘ President
Beckstrand has a quick fix for coping with stress: time with a loved one. “To keep stress from interfering with relationships, my husband and I have a standing cocktail date every week. We don’t let it slide, because having fun together is our priority,” she explains.
Lana Ellie, Floom‘s CEO
To keep organized amidst the chaos at work, Ellie makes lists of all the tasks she needs to accomplish. “I find stress most commonly happens when there’s a big task or several tasks ahead, and you’ve not yet allowed the time to plan what’s involved, so it can seem more daunting than it really is,” she says.
Kim Miale, Roc Nation Sports‘ NFL Agent and General Counsel
Miale chooses not to dwell on the unknowns. Instead, she focuses on accomplishing tasks she knows she can complete. “Prioritize what needs to be done and stick to the plan. Do not waste time worrying over things you cannot control. Focus on what you can do and execute,” she advises.
Dorothy Dowling, Best Western Hotels & Resorts‘ Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer
To recharge and refocus, Dowling periodically takes time to be alone. Spending time alone allows her to brainstorm and think out loud. She explains that this makes her a more attentive leader and a more effective problem-solver: “Brainstorming aloud helps to define the problem/project scope, the schedule and critical next steps,” she shares.
Victoria Plummer, Extended Stay America‘s Senior Vice President of Operations
Plummer understands the importance of treating her employees with respect, regardless of the situation. “Value those who you work with and always be respectful. Focus on common ground you can agree on and don’t be afraid to table the rest for later,” she explains.
Jodi Harouche, Multimedia Plus‘ Chief Creative Director and President
To minimize conflict, Harouche makes sure to meet with employees face-to-face at the first sign of trouble. “Pick up the phone or meet with the person. It might seem old fashioned, but it shows that you feel that the person is important, and you can better gauge body language,” she says.
Lisa Yong, Y Studios‘ Cofounder and Research Director
Yong opts for exercise—specifically Zumba—to shake off stressful situations. “Zumba is my jam. It’s my happy dance hour that I can be silly, shake off the work, and just have fun. It puts the bounce back in my step and I’m ready for anything again,” she explains.
Janet Hsu, Saban Brands‘ CEO
Hsu stays positive when she’s overwhelmed. She concentrates her energy on the things she can change about her situation and uses her problem-solving skills to come up with solutions. “Ultimately, our days are filled with a host of issues, but it is how you focus your energy that really matters. Try to take a breath and shift your outlook that can help lead to positive outcomes,” she urges (Tigar, Fast Company, 4/24).