What makes me so anxious in my leadership role these days?

By James Moyer - Resilient Leadership Partner

The level of anxiety we face worldwide here at the end of 2020 is extreme and escalating due to the confluence of many complex issues. As a leader you are look to for clear direction, encouragement and stability. But often these days, it is really hard to envision a successful pathway forward. And now the unrelenting personal and societal anxiety we experience is made even more unsettling because of the COVID pandemic.

Things are tough. The depth and context of the challenge we face is so intense that it merits the label — VUCA Challenge. Here is what that means:

Volatility- Fast, unpredictable change without clear patterns or trends.
Uncertainty — Frequent disruptive changes where the past is not a very good predictor of the future.
Complexity — Multiple, complex, intertwined technological, societal, geo-political and ecological transitions and evolutions.
Uncertainty — Little clarity on what is real or true and difficult to predict the impact of action or initiatives.

What is the impact of elevated anxiety on my leadership?

The impact of our elevated anxiety and unsettled sense of well-being is significant to us personally and collectively. As leaders there are three key factors to consider.

  • There is an inverse relationship between anxiety and cognition: The more anxious we become, the less clearly and creatively we think and effectively lead.
  • Anxiety is contagious, and a leader’s anxiety is the most contagious of all.
  • When it becomes chronic, anxiety erodes our health and our well-being.

What can be done? What is the pathway forward?

Begin with a focus on your own functioning. It is what you can control. Figure out how to bring down the level of reactivity and associated reactive behaviors within yourself first. Taking this step will have a significant impact on those you lead and on those that you love.

At the end of each day, ask yourself:

  • What reactive behaviors did I see in myself today?
  • What reactive behaviors did I see in others?
  • What reactive behaviors did I see in my organization, family, team, etc.?

For more information about reactive behaviorVUCA, and resilient leadership, please email Jim Moyer.

Do you want to learn more about your level of self-differentiation, click here.

About the Author...

Jim Moyer

James Moyer is a founding member of Resilient Leadership, LLC, and is the co-author with Bob Duggan of the book Resilient Leadership. Jim is an Executive Coach and strategic planning and organizational development consultant with over 30 years experience in for-profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations.