Brightly colored abstract image representing stress and productivity

We should feel stress at work. (Hear me out.)

Psychologically safe working environments should include stress (meaning pressure to perform and grow).

They shouldn’t be overly stressFUL (meaning an overload of nerves). Too much stress reduces productivity and becomes counter-productive.

So how do we productively leverage stress?

We take a lesson from great teachers! 👩‍🎓

Students don’t learn by doing easy work, and they don’t learn by attempting the impossible. They learn by doing difficult things with support.

A great teacher helps with this: they push students out of their comfort zone when it’s productive to do so, and pull them back when things get too difficult.

A great learning leader does the same thing.

They don’t just assign easy work; nor do they pile on impossible tasks. They learn the employee’s ability, then push them a bit past their comfort zone. They might assign more complex tasks, push for higher productivity, assign more responsibility, or expect higher-quality results.

And they manage stress supportively. A great leader is open to failure and learning from mistakes. They praise effective effort, not just results. If the assigned work is overstressing their employee, the leader pulls them back.

Their employees feel stress, but they know the leader has their back. They achieve far greater things than they would if everything were easy.

What’s your take on stress at work? Have you ever been supportively pushed out of your comfort zone? Drop into the comments and share!


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