Attention leaders: Are you losing the battle with stress? Arm yourself with proactive coping

Payal N. Sharma, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
James M. Silvas, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Mark Guadagnoli, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


A worldwide pandemic, associated resource constraints, and innumerable changes occurring inside and outside the landscape of organizational life. It is no wonder that today’s leaders are facing demands in their job roles and responsibilities that feel overwhelming, uncontrollable, and extraordinary – the latter of which are descriptors consistent with those of excessive stressors. Take Maria, for example, who is the hypothetical CEO of a time-share organization in the hospitality industry. Because of the pandemic, her company is now facing financial pressures due to new restrictions for people to travel, in addition to low morale amongst employees as a result of social distancing, remote working arrangements, and unexpected layoffs. Due to these concerns, Maria is burnt out and unable to sleep at night; and is trying to figure out how to cope. Her body is suffering as well, as she has high blood pressure and is on anxiety medication. However, now imagine, what if Maria had anticipated the generalized nature of the stressors at hand and utilized a proactive approach to coping? In the sections that follow, we detail how this could happen, and what being prepared for stressors could look like for leaders – across industries and sectors. For example, had Maria met with her leadership team earlier in the year to think through the root cause analysis of potential problems coming down the pipeline, she may have very well been armed to help offset the deleterious impact of the pandemic on her company and on herself as a leader.