Leadership

Study: It's Good to Be the Boss

By Ernie Smith / Sep 25, 2012 (TMG archive photo)

New research suggests that those in leadership roles tend to be fairly relaxed, not stressed.

Fans of studies contrary to conventional wisdom, this story is for you.

A group of researchers, led by a team at Harvard University, found that people in powerful positions tend to be under less stress.

Why’s that? Well, they’re in control of their own destiny.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, pulled its results from a pool of students in Harvard’s professional programs. These professionals, often in midcareer or positions of leadership, are seen as highfliers in their industries.

Among the findings:

  • Tell-tale signs: The group of 148 professionals were tested against a group of 65 people from the general community to compare levels of stress and the hormone cortisol, which the body produces in response to stress. The study showed that leaders had less stress than people in the larger community, as well as lower levels of cortisol.
  • More employees, less stress: The study also found that companies with larger groups of employees often had lower scores of stress or anxiety if they managed larger groups of people.

“It’s clear that having a sense of control is protective against stress,” explained Duke University researcher Nichole Lighthall, an expert on stress who did not take part in the study. She explained to the Los Angeles Times that executives are likely less stressed because they know “they’ll keep their position in society, their superiority, their lifestyle, and their income” even if the business suffers.

So, obvious question: Do you ever feel stressed when doing your job?

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now and a former newspaper guy. More »

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