5 Mature Ways for a Leader to Respond Under Stress

Every organization and team has times where everyone is stretched, stress abounds, and even times where it seems things are going backwards for a while. It could be a crisis or an exceptionally busy season. It could be internal or external issues causing the stressful times. During these seasons good leadership is more critical than ever.

Mature leaders know the way they respond in stress will directly impact the organization and everyone attempting to follow them.

Here are 5 mature ways for a leader to respond during stressful times:

A level head

A leader must display a calmness in the midst of crisis. If the leader panics everyone panics. Trying times test a team and the leader doesn’t needs to add a calmness to the situation, helping assure people everything will be okay. This does not mean giving a false hope. People should understand reality, but it does mean helping people find their sense of balance in the midst of what may seem hopeless in their minds.


There will always be temptations to give up under stress. A leader walks by faith and keeps the team moving forward. You can read the hard lesson I learned about this issue in my post of advice to the leader when things are going wrong. Through good times and the bad times the leader must stand firm.


Character is tested during stressful times. A leader must remain unquestioned in his or her integrity for the health of the team and organization. People will watch to see how a leader responds. What a leader says or does will be taken seriously and subject to people’s own interpretations. This is why we must strive to be above reproach.


Decisions are harder to make but more important during stressful times. The leader must think strategically for the organization – helping to steer towards clarity and progress. (Read a post about thinking strategically in the moment HERE)

Personal well-being

Leaders must remain healthy personally in order to continue to lead the organization. There will be a tendency to never leave the office, but during times of stress, the leader must continue to exercise, eat well, and be disciplined in rest. The leader must guard his or hear heart spiritually, knowing temptation is especially powerful under duress. The health of the leader directly impacts the health of the team.

Leader, have you ever had to lead during especially stressful times? Are you there now?

What would you add to my list?

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23 thoughts on “5 Mature Ways for a Leader to Respond Under Stress

  1. I'm coming to the conclusion that stress is often a product of not understanding the situation well enough. Or trying to do some task that someone else is better suited to do. Either way, *Listening to your team* might be the solution – or at least lead to solutions, which is even better.

  2. Ron, you put forth an excellent list. I would add two:

    — Stay positive. Phil.4:8 reminds us to dwell on what's good, not on what's bad or not working. Personally, when I am under stress, I can become very negative about things if I don't seek to counteract the negativity and woe-is-me thinking.

    — Be courageous. Stress and fatigue can make cowards of us all. It is easier to succumb to fear or play it safe so we must intentionally face our stressful situation with courage.

  3. Kindness. I do not mean be a wimp. I once had a boss who was excellent at this. I walked into her office with an issue to talk about. I was at odds with a decision she made that I thought was wrong. I walked out of her office a winner even though I lost the argument.

  4. One of the hardest times of leading is during my sickest moments. I battle a chronic disease and without sustaining grace some days wouldn’t be possible. It’s through these weakest moments that I have learned to rely on God the most. Once we understand God’s sovereign provedence leading becomes easy when we simply persevere.

  5. Just remember you still have a team. Don't always feel like you have to be Superman in the middle of a stressful situation. Trust your team. Work with them to get through tough times.

  6. I was a leader on a project a few years ago that had to be shut down. I suppose the one lesson I learned from that is, no matter the outcome of the project or stressful situation, relationships are always valuable enough to be preserved. Striving to put people before any agenda or task list made the ending of that project less painful.