New research from workforce consulting firm Life Meets Work shows that stressed leaders in companies have a negative impact throughout organizations on everything from employee engagement to the bottom line.

The survey, fielded among 1,000 college-educated U.S. employees, ages 18–70, asked respondents questions about their leader's ability to handle stress and contributions to the workplace, and their own work experience.


Among survey respondents, only 7% believe that their stressed leaders effectively lead their teams, and only 11% of employees with stressed leaders are highly engaged at work.

"Companies often focus on fixing individual employees to help them be less stressed and therefore more engaged,” says Kenneth Matos, psychologist and vice president of research for Life Meets Work.

“Yet, our study found that employee engagement was better predicted by the leader's ability to manage stress than the employee's current stress level.”

Stressed Leaders: Ripple Effect

"A leader's inability to manage stress ripples through the entire organization in a negative way," adds Matos.

According to the study, when leaders do not manage stress effectively, more than 50% of their employees believe their leader is either harmful or irrelevant to their job and the entire organization's performance.

Yet when leaders are adept at managing stress, only about 10% of their employees harbor such negative opinions.

The study also found that when employees see their leaders as unable to manage stress, they report lesser ambitions to advance in their organization.

While 79% of employees with resilient leaders wanted to have a more senior role in their organization, only 55% of those with a leader who is less capable of managing stress felt the same way.

"This finding should make employers ask themselves an important question: Are stressed leaders corroding my talent pipelines by being unattractive examples of leadership in the company?" says Matos.

Filed Under: Management, Workplace Culture

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