What is stress?

There is good stress and bad stress. What effect does it have on our work?

by Nigel Nicholson
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2014

Is this a designer disease afflicting our brave, broad-shouldered leaders, or is it the yoke weighing on the necks of our corporate galley slaves? Does the back strengthen to bear the burden, or does stress alienate us from our goals, relationships and abilities?

The literature on the subject confusingly shows that there is good stress and bad stress, and that mind and body experience stress differently. One thing is clear: our go-faster society has got us strung out with pressure, complexity and uncertainty to an unprecedented degree, paradoxically under conditions of unparalleled material resources, attainable prophylactics and diverting entertainments.

Bosses are rewarded outlandishly, but for tipping their work-life balance in one direction, while the lost certainties of the them-and-us industrial world have left employees bereft of scapegoats and community, so they have no one to blame for any loss of purpose, meaning and contentment. What can one do? Get a dog, take a hike, meditate, play. Find our time.

To see Nigel Nicholson's book, The 'I' of Leadership: Strategies for seeing, being and doing (Jossey-Bass, £18.99), go to iofleadership.com.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

35 Women Under 35 2020: Nominations open

Management Today's 35 Women Under 35 showcases the country's rising stars in business. Here's how...

Practical steps for breaking silos

Briefing: Adam Williams, former CEO of influencer marketing agency Takumi, shares what he learned about...

The Power 50: Proof that you can be a part-time CEO

Just a few years ago, executives were reluctant to admit they worked part-time for fear...

The 9 worst things a leader can say

Actions may speak louder than words, but words can still drop you in it.

Why you overvalue your own ideas

And why you shouldn't.

When spying on your staff backfires

As Barclays' recently-scrapped tracking software shows, snooping on your colleagues is never a good idea....