7 Tenets of a Stress-free Leader
Over the past 20 years running Formula, I have developed a crystallized plan to ensure that I maintain my health, sanity, and motivation while continuing to run a rapidly growing public relations agency. Though the following seven tips may seem obvious, most business owners will agree it is incredibly tough to stay energized when the pressure of running a business during a down economy is so great.
1. Carve out time to do the things that you love.
Make sure that you regularly find time to do the things you really love. If it’s reading, going to the movies, playing with your kids, or traveling, you need to make it a priority in your life. It allows you time to relax, reflect, and re-energize for the challenges ahead in the coming days.
2. Address issues early and immediately.
One of the main challenges that I hear from business owners is the stress levels they face knowing that the weight of the business rests on their shoulders. Thus, one of the best ways to minimize stress is to address issues early on. In many cases a small issue, when addressed early, will not become a bigger problem down the road. Also, this will eliminate the anxiety of knowing it needs to be addressed but hasn’t yet. When you face problems head on, you can move on to the more positive aspects of your business.
3. Hire good people and empower them.
The best organizations have a leader that hires smart people and allows them to do their jobs. It is fine to be a part of the process, but you are not helping yourself or the company when you are micro-managing the work. The stress of trying to do everyone’s job, plus your own, is not only challenging but frankly dumb. Employees want responsibility and autonomy, and you as a business owner should allow some latitude in both. This will ensure loyalty and longevity, which will eliminate the stress of having to replace them.
4. Focus on the big items that impact your business.
Someone once said, "Don’t sweat the small stuff." As a business owner, this is a very difficult thing to do because we want everything to be perfect. However, when you allow your team to focus on the smaller items so you can focus on the things that really impact the success of the company, you will find that the organization improves and the smaller issues stay small.
5. Develop personal relationships with the people you work with.
We all spend three-quarters of our life working. As such, I believe it’s important to have personal relationships with all levels of people you work with. When you can have fun at work with "friends" it helps to eliminate the stresses of the day, builds greater teamwork, ensures individuals feel like they are important, and makes you as the business owner more approachable.
6. Try not to work on the weekends.
This may sound silly and difficult for the many workaholics out there, but I truly believe that working seven days a week will not only contribute to a stressful life, but also shorten it. Everyone needs time to refresh, rejuvenate, and re-engage with people outside of work. Making time for you in your hectic work week will pay off when it comes time to get back into the game.
7. Work out.
Yes I know it is cliché, but I live this mantra probably better than most. When I am out running (yes, I’m a marathoner), I am able to relax and frankly solve many of the problems I face within my organization. I am confident that if all business owners spent 30-45 minutes a day building up a sweat, they would find greater energy and vitality to face the challenges within their business.
I certainly don’t expect that, if you follow the above simple tips, you will eliminate the stress that accompanies running a successful business. A certain amount of anxiety goes with the job. However, if you take the time to focus on what matters most, empower those around you to help carry some of load, and always contribute to your life outside the office, you will be better for it … and that alone will have a positive net effect on your business.