Can Anxiety make you a better Leader?

There are all sorts of articles out there on leadership. This post isn’t going to be a dossier on what you can do to be an effective leader. That’s often subjective based on goals. As an example if the goal is to get multiple people to climb a wall aggressive yelling might be effective (boot camp anyone?). Most Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win” as a team or an organization. Once you do that leaders provide the support and tools necessary for the team to get the win.

So how could anxiety help? I’ve read now dozens of articles on how to manage your anxiety and many of them boil down to “think differently”. For many people out there that isn’t an option. For some it is though. For some of us in the throes of anxiety we are functional. We understand our triggers and understand when it’s happening. For those of you like that, I found a good article here.

From the article: “If you can understand your own self efficacy around being anxious, you are more able to take a step back and observe the reactions,” she says. “You can be a powerful communicator when you tune into signals and dynamics in room. You listen more, and that’s a great leadership skill.

“Anxiety is part of life and certainly part of a high achiever’s life. To achieve, you need to take risks, push yourself, and drive toward a goal, and anxiety is inherent to this process. It’s really about your reactions.”

I liked the article because it pointed out that risk induces anxiety in nearly everyone. It’s natural, and if you have the requisite coping mechanisms you can parlay that anxiety into successful outcomes. The basic premise here is, take risks, anxiety is natural. Now of course there are degrees like everything in life. No one is suggesting you enter into a situation where you have crippling anxiety but as an example if there is a promotion at work you are up for but are anxious? Yes you take it and grow from the anxiety.

Let’s face it, if you have anxiety you are going to get bouts of it regardless of what you do. I have been a manager in a corporate environment for years and I get days where I am in a complete funk. I call in sick, I stay in bed and hide. Yep, it happens to you managers, Vice Presidents, directors of Human Resources. If you accept anxiety, warts and all and continue moving forward it’s going to help you recognize the same traits in others. Your empathy will increase and that is a key component to leadership. Understanding others and being able to empathize with this situation is critical to producing positive results when you are in a leadership role.

This article isn’t for everyone, it’s really for those of us who are high functioning with Anxiety. If you aren’t, that’s okay, you are doing awesome. One day at a time.

Want to see more posts like this? Check out my post here.