4 Mistakes Leaders Make That Cause Stress to Boil Over 

work stress

Summary: Too much stress is self-induced and comes from how we react to change. While the change won’t stop, how you respond can make a difference. While I know this is a fundamental concept, here are ways to look at your responses in a different light. 

Dear Dr. Sylvia, 

I’ll make this short and sweet. Not necessarily sweet, definitely short. 

I can keep my cool most of the time when someone reacts in a mean-spirited way. However, it’s not pretty when I am “ghosted” and ignored. Then if told it’s because of MY behavior, I become a large and in charge monster (of sorts). 

I like to acknowledge my faults and hope the other person will also be accountable for their side of a conflict.  

When upset, leaders who look beyond defending, explaining, or justifying are heard more clearly. 

However, I wouldn’t say I like it when I end up defending my position and pointing the finger of blame at the one on the other side of my rage. 

It’s like being on a never-ending roller-coaster that won’t stop.  

I need new tools or a reminder of what I can do so I don’t shout out my upset at someone unwilling (or afraid) to be accountable for their part in a confrontation. 


Leader in training 

Dear Leader, 

What you wrote applies to all of us. We each have a specific vulnerable spot that will trigger anger.  

For example, when someone takes a super strong stand to cover their butt, I go bonkers when they won’t be accountable and say, “I never did it.”  

Both you and the other person know that is a bald-faced lie. Then most of us run away from the upset. 

The natural tendency is to run from upset and divert attention. 

For instance, there are easy ways to run from stress.  

Furthermore, the list is long and familiar.  

Yet, no matter how much you medicate, party, shop, sleep, exercise, or whatever your run-away favorite is, at some point, it’s time to look at what’s going on and come to grips with the underlying emotions.  

How do you prepare for change?  

Leaders who prepare for emotional changes in front of them are well-respected. 

Yes, it’s crucial to prepare.  

Think of it this way: the quality of your preparation will influence your responses.  

Therefore, when fully equipped, you have options and possibilities that will keep you in the driver’s seat for what’s next. 

When stress hits the hot button, the tendency is to react in intuitive, familiar ways. Not good.  

Sadly, old reaction patterns bring nothing but problems. 

Doing what comes naturally keeps stress the number one cause of interpersonal conflict and health issues at work.  

Think about it for yourself.  

When things don’t go as planned, what is your first way of looking at the annoying or uncomfortable situation? 

Let me give you a hint: our bodies’ automatic choices are fight, flight, or freeze.   

Take a minute and track your reactions. Many of us take the fight route to blame and want to punch someone out.  

Others need to flee and get the heck out as fast as possible and find a place of safety.  

And still, others do the deer in the headlights response and can’t move. 

These automatic choices don’t offer many options for a lasting solution. And they lead to the worst mistakes that keep us stuck. 

You can read more in my book Invisible Stress (It’s NOT What YOU Think)“. 

Leaders: Do not “should” on yourself. 

Mistake #1: “Shoulding“: It’s his fault, it’s her fault, it’s their fault. They “should” have known better; they “should” have warned me; they “should” have fixed it. Could you stop it? Stop it right now. Don’t count on anyone else to relieve your stress. It’s your stress, no more “shoulding.” Take responsibility for how you feel. 

When you “decide not to decide,” it’s a waste of time. 

Mistake #2: Deciding: Time to pivot, yet not sure how to turn. Deciding not to decide is a stress inducer. You are still waiting for someone else to tell you what to do. The longer you wait, the deeper the stress. This is how you waste tons of emotional energy hanging onto the past and hoping for a hero to take you into the future on their red cape. 

When leaders ignore or deny what is going on, they lose.  

Mistake #3: Ignoring: It often feels better not to know. Ignorance is bliss, that is until it becomes stressful. When we know it, recognize it, and yet, ignore it, there are often enormous consequences. What we choose to “NOTSEE” can backfire and create ten times the stress when it can no longer be pushed under the rug. 

Have the word “Prepare” as your motto regarding the stress of change. 

Mistake #4: Rushing: Hurrying to get the situation over with by being impetuous without considering consequences down the line often makes you feel suitable for a moment. This leads to the “if-only syndrome” and many regrets that make stress a constant companion. Making a wise choice means preparing and planning the best move possible. It’s all about when to move and when to stand steady. 

Stress can be an ally. It’s called “eustress” and can help you get going positively without making deadly mistakes. The secret of “practicing safe stress” is to look at the extremes and then wait. You want to leave the realm of “shout it out” or the other extreme of “stuff it down.” 

Leaders who know the route to the safe stress zone are the winners at work. 

Once you practice getting to the safe stress zone, you can make better choices. It doesn’t take long; just take a few deep breaths. Wait until you understand the consequences that lie at the extremes and make a choice. 

Come on; you can do it. 

Here’s to your success, 


P.S. Join our free 7-day SANITY CHALLENGE for some fun and important ways to de-stress. If you take the time to jot down what you do to get into the safe stress zone, you could win one or even more prizes. It only takes a few minutes a day. Hurry to www.ceoptions.com and click on the banner at the top. You’ll love what you learn and can pass it along to others.  

Creative Energy Options

Sylvia Lafair

Creative Energy Options