The Ideas2Action (I2A) project is a Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) initiative aimed at achieving our goal of “ideas into action” by providing relevant and timely research via technology to our open-enrollment programs. Two major research methods were used: a short in-class survey via computer kiosks and a volunteer Internet survey sent to participants two to three weeks after completion of their respective programs.

Over a three-month period in the summer of 2006, the I2A team collected data attempting to answer the question “How does stress impact leadership?” We received more than 160 responses to the in-class survey and 70 responses to the Internet survey. The typical respondent was a male between the ages of 41 and 50 representing upper-middle management or the executive level.

The major findings of this survey included:

  1. Eighty-eight percent of leaders report that work is a primary source of stress in their lives and that having a leadership role increases the level of stress.
  2. More than 60 percent of surveyed leaders cite their organizations as failing to provide them with the tools they need to manage stress.
  3. More than two-thirds of surveyed leaders believe their stress level is higher today than it was five years ago.
  4. Nearly 80 percent of surveyed leaders state they would benefit from a coach to help them manage stress.
  5. A lack of resources and time are the most stressful leadership demands experienced by leaders. Stress is caused by trying to do more with less, and to do it faster.
  6. Leaders experience stress equally between their bosses, peers, direct reports and customers, but the reasons for the stress are different depending on the source.
  7. Physical exercise is the most commonly cited method leaders use to manage stress, yet only 10 percent of responses from surveyed leaders indicate their organizations provide access to gyms or workout facilities.
  8. More than 90 percent of leaders cite they manage stress by temporarily removing themselves, either physically or mentally, from the source of their stress.
  9. Most leaders use a variety of sensory pursuits, or physical stimuli, to manage stress regardless of the source.
  10. Stress caused by task demands such as job responsibilities and decision making is often managed by engaging in behaviors that help the leader gain focus and perspective on the challenge.

Additional Contributing Authors:

Jessica Innis Baltes is a former Research Associate with the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs. The focus of her current work is in the area of evaluation aimed at studying the impact of leadership development programs. Her areas of professional interest include entrepreneurial leadership, strategy and sustainability.

André Martin a former enterprise associate with the Center for Creative Leadership, is currently the Leadership Development Director for Mars, Inc. André holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from St. Louis University.

Kyle Meddings is a graduate from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs studying Organizational Management and Human Resource Management as well as leadership communication. Kyle served as an intern at the Center for Creative Leadership working with the Ideas2Action project team.

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