Leading in High-Stress Environments

PMI Portugal Chapter

Alexandre Costa is a software engineer in Vila Franca do Rosário, Portugal.

Recent research from several institutes dealing with illnesses shows that those most likely to develop burnout syndrome are team leaders or team members with extremely demanding deadline projects due to globalization and pressure from competitors. The speed with which companies expect products to be marketed creates high levels of anxiety that not everyone is prepared to endure.

Some of the main causes of stress in a project environment are:

  • Exacerbated pressure
  • Excessive competitiveness
  • Work overload
  • Technology

As a former army veteran trained to withstand intense stress, I was reflecting on the subject and how it should be approached in an organizational environment. There are two types of stress within a project team:

  1. The stress of leadership: There is a lot of responsibility in your daily scope of work. Coupled with a potentially hostile environment, this can have negative consequences. Loneliness, feelings of guilt and a high workload are just some of the triggers of stress. In crucial moments when stressful situations turn out to be chronic, this disorder can become a performance limit for professionals. Efficiency, innovation and its development can all be undermined.
  2. Team member stress: There is a very thin and direct line between work stress and productivity. The team member must be careful and watch over their health. The project manager …

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"I never thought much of the courage of a lion-tamer. Inside the cage he is at least safe from people."

- George Bernard Shaw

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