How Successful Leaders Manage Worry

Michelle Riklan  |  November 24, 2015
last updated

Manage-Worry At every waking moment, multiple concerns run through a leader’s mind. The larger the team, the more numerous those concerns — which then, turn into worries. Defined as a state of uncertainty over actual or potential problems, worrying is not necessarily a bad thing, but letting anxiety take over is never good. So, how do successful leaders manage worry and everyday challenges? They accept that problems will come up. Instead of worrying, they get to solving and preventing. Below are a few of our best tips to help leaders manage worry better and keep a more balanced life.

Sharpen Perception and Get a Big-Picture Perspective

Root out perceived problems from real problems. Focus on the second, forget the first. But how do you know if a problem is not a real problem in the first place?

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “Tipping Point: How to Reduce Stress in an Uncertain World.“.

Attend Promptly to REAL and On-Going Problems

Among real problems, prioritize actual problems over potential problems that may or may not happen in a few days. Yes, that includes the presentation you’re dreading tomorrow.

Give actual problems prompt attention so you can get them off your list of concerns. Otherwise, new problems will pile up onto your current problems. That’s when anxiety rears its scary head. Jim Folk, founder of writes that anxiety also persists when the underlying reasons aren’t properly addressed.

Tackle actual problems by breaking them down into manageable segments. Is it equipment failure, procedure flaw, human error, insufficient time, or a communication lapse? Communication is almost always part of the problem. Strive to continuously improve the quality and flow of information within the team and between departments. Once a problem is solved, put steps in place so it doesn’t recur.

Make Preventive Planning a Habit

Potential problems are a major source of worrying. Preventive planning anticipates possible negative outcomes from current ongoing action. But how do you prevent your brain from making away with unending worst case scenarios?

Base preventive planning measures on past problems and their triggers. For instance, a potential client is supposed to meet you at a golf club a few miles away. Do you have a back-up venue ready if it rains? Will you be prepared to talk business if the winds are too strong for a good game? A preventive mindset allows you to set up a plan B and C to avoid foreseeable problems and mitigate unexpected ones.

Practice Delegation to Mentor Others

Are you worrying over problems that others can handle? Assigning someone else to solve a problem is downright hard for high-performing managers. Do it anyway. It frees you to focus on other tasks that ONLY you can really perform. It’s also a good opportunity to groom potential “understudies.”

For additional reading on this topic, you might take a look at “7 Strategies to Improve Your Life and Reduce Stress.“.

Detach from Your Stressful Triggers.

Meditate, work out, watch a sitcom, or nap to snuff stress and renew your spirit. You’ve covered your bases and ticked off all checklists. There’s little room for worry. You’re now ready for that final step–letting go. When Murphy ’s Law occurs, as it often does, you’ll accept you can’t control everything, and then laugh about it. No worries.

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Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources. She is based in the New York, NY Region. She is a specialist in corporate team development and public speaking skill classes.
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