Much of our collective time is spent in a “stressed out” state. There is always something else on the to-do list, always an upcoming deadline, always a meeting you’re not prepared for. If you’re in leadership, then it is possible that your team may even feel stressed whenever you’re around (bosses can tend to do that sometimes). But stress isn’t always a terrible thing. Sometimes it can actually bring out good qualities in people. Here are 9 different types of stressed-out people that may be on your team, and a few different ways you can help them use their stress to their advantage.
1: The Creative
The Creative is normally a “by-the-book” type of person. Under stress, they can become more critical of others than normal (usually their criticism is pointed at themselves). Also under stress, they will be tempted to view themselves as useless or others as useless. As the leader, you can encourage them to become a creative problem solver and to think “outside the box.” You’ll be surprised at their ability to see a way forward that others might miss.
2: The Snowplow
The Snowplow is a gentle and servant-hearted person. But under stress, they can become quite short and irritable. They can even lash out at others and be very harsh. A good leader will help them channel their aggressive energy to push through a difficult task and to overcome opposition. You’ll just have to remind them who or what the opposition is (hint: it’s not other people on your team).
3: The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker is normally a go-getter who you can trust to be anything but lazy. But under stress, they can become lazy and withdrawn. They can decide that their opinions don’t matter and that it would be easier just to go with the flow of what everyone else is doing. You can lead them well by asking them to give oversight and direction to the group based on what all the team members are saying. They will be able to see everyone’s point of view more clearly than most.
4: The Servant
The Servant is normally more of a loner on the outside of the group. But under stress, they can tend to be more people-oriented, though it might be to point out how unfairly they themselves have been treated in comparison to others. Leading them well during times of stress may mean encouraging them to help the team by boosting other people’s success. Remind them that if the team succeeds, so do they.
5: The Encourager
The Encourager is normally slow to engage and a bit more standoffish than others on the team. They may even have a reputation for not being interested in other’s opinions or interests. However, under stress, they can tend to cause distractions, both for themselves and for others, as they find it easier than sticking with the task at hand. Their genuine desire is for the environment to be more enjoyable, so you can help them to see one of their primary roles under stress as one of encouragement for other team members.
6: The Achiever
The Achiever is normally a less decisive, more stable member of the team. They can tend to ask lots of questions and often have a hard time trusting decisions. But once they’re on board, they’re locked in tight! Under stress, however, when given clear expectations, they can become much better decision-makers. Deadlines can even help them to accomplish things that might otherwise take them much longer to do.
7: The Anchor
The Anchor is normally the happy-go-lucky, high-energy member of the team. Sometimes it can even be difficult to imagine them in a serious situation. Under stress, they can tend to become overly critical of themselves, which will eventually bleed out on to others around them. However, you can bring them into a very valuable role on the team under stress by asking them to keep the team on task and make sure things are done the right way. You’ll probably be surprised by how highly they will value rules that they normally seem to ignore.
8: The Thinker
The Thinker is usually much more of the hard-nosed bulldozer on the team. Often their lack of patience can make people feel like they’ve been run over. But under stress, they tend to slow down a lot. Left to themselves, they might become withdrawn and judgmental. Instead, lead them to become a researcher who combs through the data and helps the team to make the best, most informed decisions possible.
9: The Guardian
The Guardian typically has few opinions of their own and often sees the merit in anyone else’s. But under stress, they can tend to be bound up by anxiety, which may cause them to either freeze or fight back against those around them. Help them to become the guardian of the group by pausing with them and asking them to assess any potential threats they see. They’ll almost assuredly begin asking the important questions that others don’t think to ask.
The Bottom Line
Don’t stress too much over stress. As a leader, you don’t have to create an environment where no one is stressed. Rather, try to guide your team through stress by knowing the healthiest ways for each team member to handle it.