How Does Your Team Respond in Stress?

When we have one option, we’re stuck; when we have two options, we have a dilemma; when we have three options, we have a choice! This is why the questions we suggested last week are helpful – they allow you to broaden your options and be a more effective leader instead of being stuck in your default stress response.

The world around us is stressful and will continue to be. Understanding your stress stance and that of your team/colleagues opens up choices in how you handle it. Here are some ideas of what you can do and things to keep in mind:


If this is you:

  • Challenge yourself to slow down. Paradoxically, you may find you are more effective and efficient when you do.
  • Work with a coach, mentor or trusted friend to process the emotions that are driving you.
  • Remember Stephen Covey’s words: “To go fast with people, go slow.”
  • Be aware that your action-oriented approach to stress can drive those around you to burnout if they have a different response but are trying to keep up with you. It is essential to communicate what your true expectations are

If this is someone you work with:

  • Ask questions to clarify their expectations. It’s a lot easier to take a “you do you” approach and let them go at their pace if you know they’re not demanding that you keep up.
  • The possible consequences of their actions don’t tend to influence them, probably because those consequences are in the future which they believe they can change!
  • You can motivate them by showing how an action will effect change by restructuring the world in some way.


If this is you:

  • Your instinctual drive to seek answers outside yourself makes your predisposition to anxiety even stronger.
  • To improve your leadership, get clear on what you want rather than focusing exclusively on what everyone else might want.
  • You’ll lead better as you begin trusting that doing what you believe to be best isn’t necessarily going to harm people around you.

If this is someone you work with:

  • It doesn’t help to ask them what they are thinking (they tend to not know what they’re thinking!)
  • They are looking for temperate solutions to challenges.
  • Show them how your ideas avoid extremes and account for reactions others may have.


If this is you:

  • Get in touch with actually doing things that matter to you.
  • Take actions out of your head and into your physical body. Some find lists to be very helpful, so that when you start to withdraw you have a customized resource for how to maintain your presence.
  • Challenge yourself to work towards progress, not perfection. We like to call a “GEPO” when needed – Good Enough, Press On!

If this is someone you work with:

  • Avoid the temptation to chase after them when they start retreating – they actually do need some space.
  • Minimize surprises and interruptions if you can.
  • Show them how your ideas are as tested, proven and unassailable as possible.

In Brene Brown’s recent podcast on Day 2 (otherwise known as the messy middle we collectively find ourselves in right now) she reminded us of the importance of conversations where we:

  1. Name it
  2. Normalize it
  3. Put it in perspective
  4. Reality check expectations.

If you haven’t had a resetting conversation like this with your team/colleagues/family recently, it’s well worth your time. Whatever your stance in stress and no matter how those around you might differ, appreciating everyone’s perspectives can help you reach a shared understanding that allows you to move forward together.

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