Coping with Leadership Stress


Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond


A Team Building Exercise

As new years begin, leaders are often faced with undue pressures – budgets change, revenues slow, programs seem in disarray. The Center for Creative Leadership recently (, Nov. 24, 2015) published an excellent article on ‘How to take the stress out of leadership’ I will briefly cover the three (3) areas they cite that can relieve stress. But more importantly are the statements a leader/Executive Director/CEO can use to better focus a team. The statements form the basis for strengthening a team.

The article notes that leadership is a complicated, social process – that enables individuals to work together better to achieve certain results. The three areas are:

  • Direction – agreement in the group about overall goals.
  • Alignment – coordinated work within the group, even when individuals have different assignments or roles to play.
  • Commitment – mutual and shared responsibility in the group.

The article contains a fuller definition of these areas.

Here are the statements posed which make up a good agenda for a staff or board meeting. It’s best to give the team notice before hand so they can be prepared. In the discussion, ask the team how much they agree on the following statements. A leader may then better gauge what needs to change to strengthen the team and lessen stress.

  • We agree on what we should be aiming to accomplish together.
  • We have group priorities that help focus on the most important work.
  • The work of each individual is well coordinated with the work of others.
  • People are clear about how their tasks fit into the work of others.
  • We make the success of the group – not just our individual success – a  priority. 

In the article, there are also reasons why these statements are often difficult. Just a few are:

  • Direction has not been articulated or talked about.
  • Disagreement about direction is known but not openly acknowledged.
  • We jump into projects, tasks, without a plan connecting to others’ work.
  • We are unclear who is responsible for tasks or who has authority.
  • We don’t bring others in with relevant expertise.
  • We see duplication of effort, or conversely, gaps where work falls through the cracks.

These statements are good questions for a leader to consider. In a discussion, these questions may help a leader get clarification. For example, “How many feel that our direction, or goals are not clear – or even talked about?” Or, “Are we clear about who has the responsibility?”

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,