What is Executive Stress ?


“Executive stress” primarily refers to the specific type of stress experienced by individuals in high-level or executive positions within organisations.  These positions often come with substantial responsibilities, demanding workloads, high-pressure decision-making, and accountability for the company’s performance.

The sources of executive stress can vary but often include:

  • Workload: Executives are often responsible for overseeing multiple departments and managing various tasks simultaneously, leading to an overwhelming workload
  • Responsibility and Decision-Making: High-level executives are accountable for significant business decisions that can have a substantial impact on the company and its employees. The weight of these decisions can cause stress
  • Long Working Hours: Executives frequently work long hours, including weekends and holidays, to meet the demands of their roles
  • Constant Pressure: The pressure to achieve financial targets, meet shareholder expectations, and keep the company competitive can be relentless
  • Challenges in Work-Life Balance: The demanding nature of executive roles can make it challenging to balance work commitments with personal and family life
  • Interpersonal Relationships: Managing teams and dealing with internal conflicts can add to the stress load
  • Public Scrutiny: High-level executives often face public scrutiny and media attention, especially in larger companies or during times of crisis

Managing executive stress is crucial not only for the wellbeing of the executives themselves, but also for the overall performance and success of the organisation.  Companies may implement strategies to support executives in managing stress, such as providing access to mental health resources, offering executive coaching, promoting work-life balance, and fostering a positive and supportive corporate culture.

Individual executives can also take steps to reduce stress, such as delegating tasks, prioritising self-care, seeking support from mentors or peers, and developing effective time management strategies.  Recognising and addressing executive stress can lead to better decision-making, improved employee morale, and increased productivity within the organisation.


Coping with executive stress is essential for maintaining overall wellbeing and performing effectively in high-level roles.  As such, here are some strategies to help executives manage and reduce stress:

  • Self-awareness: Recognise signs of stress and understand its impact on your physical and mental health. Being aware of your stress triggers can help you anticipate and manage them more effectively
  • Time Management: Prioritise tasks and set realistic goals. Effective time management can prevent feeling overwhelmed and allow you to focus on critical responsibilities
  • Delegation: Learn to delegate tasks to capable team members. Effective delegation not only reduces your workload, but also empowers and develops your team
  • Support Network: Build a strong support network, both inside and outside of the organisation. Connect with mentors, colleagues, or executive coaches who can provide guidance and understanding
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, proper nutrition, and sufficient sleep. Physical wellbeing can significantly impact your ability to cope with stress.
  • Mental Health: Prioritise mental health and stress management techniques. Consider mindfulness practices, meditation, or relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety and promote mental clarity
  • Work-Life Balance: Strive to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Make time for hobbies, family, and activities that bring joy and fulfilment outside of work.
  • Clear Communication: Encourage open and honest communication within the organisation. This can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, leading to a more positive work environmen
  • Breaks and Vacations: Take regular breaks during the workday and use your vacation time to disconnect from work and recharge
  • Manage Expectations: Be realistic about what you can achieve and communicate openly with stakeholders about timelines and outcomes
  • Avoid Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can be exhausting and increase stress levels. Focus on doing your best and learning from challenges
  • Problem-Solving Strategies: Develop problem-solving skills to address issues as they arise, rather than letting them build up and cause more stress
  • Humour and Relaxation: Incorporate humour and relaxation into your daily routine. Laughter and leisure activities can provide a natural release of tension
  • Continuous Learning: Stay open to learning and improving your skills. Continuous learning can boost your confidence and help you adapt to changing circumstances
  • Seek Professional Help: If stress becomes overwhelming or affects your well-being, don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional

Remember that coping with executive stress is an ongoing process. By implementing these strategies and being proactive about managing stress, you can enhance your ability to navigate challenges effectively and lead your organisation with clarity and resilience.

Many organisations will have in-place an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). These paramount support services are accessible to everyone within the organisation, at all levels, regardless of job title. So if you are in need of support, please talk to someone. Call your EAP in confidence. You can also talk to your GP/Doctor.

For any organisation looking to implement an new EAP service in support of your employees and ‘executives’, please click here.

E&OE. Public Domain Content, Generic July23

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