“The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow,” noted Rupert Murdoch.  Changing anything quickly is stressful.  And changing old ways into new requires innovation.  This creates a serious challenge for most leaders today.  Fortunately, a research study provides some helpful insights into leading workplace innovation in stressful times. Using a time-lagged study of 134 employees from Canadian business firms, a team of researchers analyzed the relationships between workplace stressors and employee innovation. The results revealed that challenge (i.e., role overload) and hindrance (i.e., role ambiguity and role conflict) were stressors that had negative effects on innovative behavior.

They further found that these stressors could be dramatically diminished and innovation signifcanlty inspired by leaders who

  1. communicate specific expectations of a team member’s role in the organization,
  2. clarify the chain of command,
  3. provide clear definitions of job-related tasks and priorities
  4. ensure all team members understand their responsibilities and have the resources needed to meet them.
  5. are willing to be fair and make transparent promotion and performance appraisal procedures.
  6. encourage team member participation, especially in decisions that directly affect the team member.

Innovations are possible in stressful times–especially for teams with led by skillful leaders.


Montani, F., Courcy, F., & Vandenberghe, C. (2017). Innovating under stress: The role of commitment and leader-member exchange. Journal of Business Research77, 1–13.