Reducing stress can require a change in management technique.
A few months after Joseph Baute ascended to vice-president of Markem Corp., he grew frustrated and short-tempered. His boss questioned his impetuous behavior. The managers under him were obedient but rarely made suggestions. Baute sensed that he wasn't deploying his authority well and that he and his boss couldn't communicate.
Baute spotted an article on leadership that mentioned seminars offered by the Levinson Institute, in Belmont, Mass. He showed it to the chairman, and the two executives agreed to "get out of the plant and kick some leaves," Baute says. The institute, composed of some 30 psychologists and psychiatrists, runs eight such seminars a year. Using lectures, discussions, and case histories, the seminars cover such subjects as managing change and the function of leadership.
Baute came to see that he was creating an atmosphere that was threatening instead of demanding -- and that his autocratic style was tearing him apart inside. "The most common problem is wanting to be the 'macho man," says Baute, an ex-Marine. "We have this pressure to win, and we're afraid to open up."
Along with the chairman, Baute started a new company practice, a "diary" in which top managers write at least a page each week. "We share our progress and the problems we're thinking about," says Baute. He also began regular listening sessions with managers. Baute is now chairman and chief executive officer. "An organization really reflects the behavior of its top management," he says.
Cost: the Levinson Institute's leadership seminar costs $2,700 for a week. The Center for Applied Behavioral Sciences, at The Menninger Foundation, in Topeka, Kan., and The Center for Creative Leadership, in Greensboro, N.C., also offer week-long seminars that are comparably priced.