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16 Ways Leaders Can Stress Less and Adapt to Opportunities

Increasing your adaptability as a leader means you'll be ready for whatever your business throws at you, including new opportunities for growth.

Stress is common when you’re in a management position. With countless tasks to complete, employees to manage and business operations to oversee, it’s no surprise many leaders end up feeling overwhelmed at one point or another.

One of the most effective ways to combat stress in the business world is by improving your adaptability, so you’re ready to take on whatever is thrown your way. Below, 16 members of Young Entrepreneur Council shared their best tips for becoming more opportunity-oriented as a leader.

1. Work in All Departments

Find time to work in all of the departments in your company. Leaders and managers need to understand the ins and outs of various work processes and procedures. I think that hands-on experience in these areas will help improve your adaptability while reducing stress. 

Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

2. Practice Yoga and Meditation

Be present. How can you be truly present? Practice yoga and meditation to gain control of your thoughts and your breath. Being more still and silent in my mind and body have yielded opportunities that I never would have been able to recognize without these practices. Much of this comes from learning how to not respond with your ego and to listen to and evaluate exactly what is in front of you. 

Matthew Capala, Alphametic

3. Be Open to Ideas From All Team Members

Remember that every team member has something to offer, regardless of seniority. To seize new opportunities, delegate responsibilities to your team members and give them a reasonable degree of freedom in devising new solutions to problems as they emerge. How they adapt to emerging problems will determine how much freedom they’re given to respond to emerging issues in the future.

Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions

4. Embrace Ambiguity

Sometimes, you won’t have all the answers you’re looking for. This can be seriously frustrating for a business owner, but running a business means dealing with the unexpected. You can prepare yourself for change and adaptation by viewing ambiguity differently. Rather than see it as a hindrance, view it as a challenge to do and be better.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

5. Remain Positive

This is one of the biggest signs of strength as a leader. When you remain positive, it doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of the situation; it means that in spite of the situation, you find something valuable. Perhaps this means a lesson was learned or an opportunity was found. Regardless, it’s important to remember that failures are just hidden opportunities waiting to be found. 

John Hall, Calendar

6. Chase Problems, Not Profits

Opposition is an opportunity when you have issues, challenges and problems that you encounter every day. You want to not only adapt to it, but take advantage of it and offer a solution to a problem. We have to be chasing problems and not profit. We have to find problems that customers are facing while not being aware of it. Identifying and solving these problems is an opportunity to grow.

Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

7. Delegate When Possible

A great leader is able to put trust in their team to execute tasks. The more you can delegate the simpler tasks to others, the more time there is to spend on higher-level problem-solving and opportunity-seeking. Be willing to trust that your employees can execute, and you will be able to stress less and produce more.

Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

8. Tackle One Concern at a Time

Stress gets to us when issues pile up and look insurmountable. You can be more flexible by managing one problem at a time. This helps you focus and save your energy to deal with multiple issues effectively. You’ll also be able to think clearly and look for opportunities and new solutions. 

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

9. Adjust Your Management Style

If the way you manage your business hinders you from adaptation, then you need a change. Owning a business requires adaptability because the business landscape is constantly evolving. Those who can’t keep up will sink while those who welcome change will swim. You can ask your team how you can improve your leadership and what you can do to better adapt to new situations.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

10. Shift Your Perspective

It’s all about shifting your perspective. If you see change as a stressful situation instead of an opportunity for learning and growth, then you won’t be adaptable. If you can learn to shift your perspective, adaptability will follow.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

11. Focus on Positive Stress

To manage stress and uncertainty you have to find a way to focus on positive stress. Opportunities are out there and each one comes with a level of risk. However, if you can focus your efforts on how you can adapt to capitalize on these opportunities, it will become easier and easier to be adaptable. I love the phrase, “If you build it, they will come.”

Jordan Erskine, Dynamic Blending

12. Change Your Negative Thoughts

Many people find themselves in the motion of negative thoughts like anger, fear, vanity, etc. One should keep in mind that negative emotions lead to negative actions and the other way around. So my advice is to change your emotions through meditation, exercise or engaging in some activity that can occupy your mind. And don’t resist any thoughts. The more you resist, the more they persist.

Kelly Richardson, Infobrandz

13. Practice Managing Your Stress

I feel like stress is an entirely relative emotion. Many of the things that used to give me anxiety in the early days are barely a blip on my radar anymore. Perhaps stress is something you get better at through time and practice like anything else.

Ashley Merrill, Lunya

14. Don’t Let Your Plans Stifle Creativity

Recent history has reminded us that even the best-laid plans and projections are tenuous and always subject to change. Resilience and adaptability are more crucial than ever. Systems and SOPs are essential for scalability, but don’t let them stifle creativity. Allow yourself and your team the freedom to “think outside the box” and propose creative solutions without fear of failure.

Matt Diggity, Diggity Marketing

15. Surround Yourself With People You Want to Be Like

Surround yourself with the people you want to become like. I strongly recommend the book Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Many businesses are prone to fall into one mindset: a prevention mindset (avoiding negative outcomes) or a promotion mindset (pursuing positive outcomes). While data shows that companies with a promotion mindset perform better, those who use both mindsets perform the best.

Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing Inc.

16. Be Curious

Adaptability, innovation and change are all rooted in curiosity. Whether you want to prepare for what’s next or need to respond to a current situation, a leader’s curiosity will help create a culture that’s built around questions, ideas, possibilities and potential outcomes. This curiosity will permeate your organization so that your team is forward-looking and prepared for change.

Jack Tai, OneClass

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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