Being a manager or boss can be fulfilling and gratifying work. It can also come with brand new pressures and stresses to navigate. Stress in a management role is normal, but too much unaddressed leadership anxiety can become debilitating and lead to problems such as burnout, depression, and a lower overall quality of life.
I’m a therapist for anxious millennials. Many of my clients are smart, high-achieving people in leadership roles. Even though they’re resilient, capable, and successful, many still struggle with overwhelming leadership anxiety and worry there’s something wrong with them. If you deal with too much everyday manager stress, you’re not alone. Here are 3 common reasons you might be stressed out – and solutions to decrease these stressors.
Workplace stress is a common problem among my clients. Offices and companies can bring a wide variety of people together with vastly different skills and personalities. It’s often difficult to navigate relationships with coworkers, particularly if you live with anxiety or feel like an outsider. A lot of people struggle with imposter syndrome, people pleasing in the workplace, and a fear of talking to their boss.
So what happens when you are the boss? If you already struggle with things like anxiety, people-pleasing, or boundary setting, taking on a managerial role can put you in the spotlight and amplify these fears even more.
Leadership can add a lot of pressure to your place. You may experience heavier workloads, performance anxiety, and unreasonable expectations. Here are three common factors that increase leadership anxiety – and what you can do to help release the pressure valve.
1. Fear about letting others down
It’s normal to have some concerns about wanting to do a good job and take care of the employees you manage. But if these fears are excessive, intrusive, or keep you from being able to focus on much else, it’s worth asking yourself why. For example, if you’re so terrified of making a mistake because you think it will mean you’re failing your employees, it can be difficult to get anything done.
It’s likely that at least some of these fears stem from people-pleasing. If so, you might constantly worry about what your employees think of you. You may struggle to manage or delegate tasks because you’re worried about someone not approving of your style or strategies.
What you can do:
2. Being hard on yourself
It’s healthy and normal to have standards for yourself. However, you might find yourself being harsher with yourself than you would be with others. This can look like not giving yourself a break for things you’d give your employees a break for, unrealistic expectations for what you should be able to accomplish, or shaming and blaming yourself whenever anything goes poorly or not according to plan.
What you can do:
3. Worries about incompetence
Leadership is a learned skill that takes time and effort to get good at. Many managers and bosses worry that unless they’re the absolute best boss from the get-go, they’re doing something wrong or are incompetent. But it’s okay if you need time to learn the skills that come with effective management. This doesn’t make you incompetent; it makes you someone who’s willing to learn and grow, and that’s pretty amazing.
Unfortunately, many bosses and managers are thrown into leadership positions quickly and without proper training. This can cause difficulty in managing all the moving parts. It can also create confusion around who’s supposed to do what, and make you spiral even more about whether you’re doing a good enough job.
What you can do:
If being an anxious manager is causing you undue stress, burnout, or adding to your mental health load, I'm here to help. Together, we can help you work through your challenges so you feel resourced, confident, and worthy of being a boss. We’ll set specific goals to help you feel empowered and capable. You’ll learn how to navigate people-pleasing from a managerial lens, challenge your negative self-beliefs, build communication skills, advocate for yourself, and more.
I’m ready if you are. Reach out today to get started.
Danielle is an anxiety therapist and perfectionism coach. She specializes in helping busy millennials dial down their anxiety and ADHD, so they can perform at their best. Danielle has been featured on Apartment Therapy, SparkPeople, Lifewire, and Now Art World. When Danielle isn't helping her clients, she's playing video games or spending time with her partner and step children.