Leadership and Lower Level of Stress

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
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On my way to work a couple of weeks back, I heard about recent study that indicated relationship between higher leadership positions and stress levels associated with it. We have always perceived that – “the higher the position;  higher the stress level”. But two studies by Harvard and Stanford researchers suggests otherwise. Professor James Gross of Stanford and  Jennifer Lerner at Harvard studied a sample of military leaders (O-5 and O-6) and senior government officials (GS 14/15) and found no evidence that the leadership-stress relationship depended on the stability of rank.

According to the studies, cortisol levels which is an indicator of anxiety were lower for Leaders than non-leaders. They also found that the leadership role had lower stress to due an increased sense of control.

Interestingly, these studies indicate that, “the low stress levels of leaders may  both cause and result from leadership that is, individuals with low stress may be particularly well-suited for leadership and as a result, may select into leadership positions”.

About Coritsol: It is a hormone secreted by adrenal glands. Higher levels of cortisol are associated with higher levels of stress & anxiety.

Elizabeth Scott’s article on About.com is also a great place to get some basic information on Cortisol. More detailed information on http://www.cortisol.com
About O-5 and O-6 ranks:
O-5- LIEUTENANT COLONEL (LTC) -Typically commands battalion-sized units (300 to 1,000 Soldiers), with a CSM as principal NCO assistant. May also be selected for brigade and task force Executive Officer.
O-6- COLONEL (COL) – Typically commands brigade-sized units (3,000 to 5,000 Soldiers), with a CSM as principal NCO assistant. Also found as the chief of divisional-level staff agencies.
Following is the link to the study:
  1. Ravi says:

    Its an interesting article.
    Thanks Shailendra.

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