In an extensive study of 6 leading corporate executives, researchers discovered that they managed their responses to severe stress in such a way as to actually emerged from the experience invigorated and energized for peak performance. A key to preventing stress and managing their fatigue was accomplished using six strategies. These included:
- Balanced work/family perspective. The leaders saw work as central to their lives, but not their sole focus. They did not see their work as the most important aspect of their life. It was important, but not more important than their family, friends, and their personal well-being.
- Recognition and acceptance that stress is inevitable. They were not, however, passive in their acceptance of stress. Rather, it enabled them to identify and channel their energies in productive ways. For example, in challenging times they look for opportunities rather than seeing themselves as victims.
- Leisure time. They seek and regularly participate in active leisure activities that provide some level of exercise and sufficiently diverts their attention from work-related problems for a sustained time.
- Time management. Two strategies were used here. The first was a rigorous use of a calendar to control the time allocations in a day. The second was a daily routine that allows them to schedule their day to accomplish the most important or difficult tasks first and end the day with more mundane or unimportant tasks.
- Planning and goal setting. Planning helps eliminate surprises and bolsters preparation for addressing an uncertain future. Establishing goals allows priorities to remain from and center and differentiate between tasks needing to be done (to meet the goal) and not done (no contribution to goal attainment).
- Social support. Every CEO in this study emphasized the importance of building important work and non-work relationships. They were not lone wolfs in an organization, but rather part of a larger social network. These relationships provided much needed informational, emotional, appraisal, and resource support.
Nelson, D., Quick, J., & Quick, J. (1989). Corporate warfare: Preventing combat stress and battle fatigue. Organizational Dynamics, 18(1), 65-79.