Sunday, October 31, 2021

Anxiety at workplace

Anxiety & Stress at workplace

Last week one of my friends collapsed while he was visiting a customer for inspection. His colleagues rushed him to the hospital. Doctor said that this was because of anxiety. 

Anxiety is the inevitable part of professional life. Highly demanding jobs are creating stress at work. Pandemic and work from home has added another dimension into the stress. Long working hours and increased screen time, wrong postures are creating issues. Anxiety in the workplace is at an all-time high and is rising in professionals. Anxiety in young talent is the bigger issue for organizations. As per one of the research, there has been a 67% rise in the number of employees who reported they feel anxiety at work over the past two years. Employees are leaving jobs not only for monetary gain but also to explore the things which they have not explored in the past. However, one of the reasons is stress and anxiety. Employees are feeling that they are not taken care of enough. 

In spite of having this all, employees are not willing to discuss the anxiety at the workplace because they feel that employers and managers may  take it negatively impacting their performance and career. 

Stress is defined as a biological reaction when changes occur, to which the body responds physically, mentally, or emotionally. Anxiety involves the body and the mind and can be serious enough to qualify as a mental disorder when allowed to become chronic. The fundamental difference between stress and anxiety is stress is typically short lived and event-based where anxiety is a sustained sense of stress, fear, or worry that can interfere with life when left unaddressed.

Positive side of the stress

Psychologists are in the opinion that optimum stress is required. Positive side of stress is called “eustress” (Dr. Hans Selye). When focused on the positive, stress enhances motivation, builds resilience and encourages growth, promotes belonging among peers and is part of a meaningful life (It is the challenge that creates the moments of accomplishment and feeling of self-worth)

As leaders, we need to recognize and appreciate that a certain degree of anxiety is essential for driving performance. The goal for leaders is not to eliminate anxiety but rather manage the degree of anxiety a workforce feels. 

When challenges and high demand are inversely proportional to the confidence and competence, the chances of anxiety are more.  When confidence is low and challenges are high, then anxiety is the outcome. 

Emotional intelligence and empathy are the antinode for stress and anxiety. To address anxiety in the workplace and transform anxiety into performance, leaders need to demonstrate empathy. It is actually quite easy to do. All it takes is to ask, “How do you feel, and what do you need?”; actively listen to what they say, and then act upon it. Transforming anxiety into performance starts with caring enough to ask the question. 

One of the consultancy firms (the culture think tank) which extensively works in the area of stress, anxiety and wellness, explains three Dimensions of Anxiety:

  • Security is the sense of confidence employees have in their position within the workplace and their ability to accomplish their assigned responsibilities
  • Understanding is the sense of confidence employees have in knowing what is going on within the organization and how their duties support the organization
  • Acceptance is the sense of belonging employees have within the organization 

Understanding and addressing anxiety in the workplace is not complicated nor difficult to manage. Managers need to be trained on how to respond to the above dimensions of anxiety. 

Organizations need to come up with key metrics to measure the stress and anxiety at the workplace. Health and wellness initiatives has to be considered as a one of the people agenda focusing on Physical, Psychological, Social and Proper Employee Assistance Programme. 

Managing anxiety is not something leaders need to actively address everyday; but it is something they need to address frequently. However, asking employees “how do you feel and what do you need?,” once a year during the employee engagement survey or performance appraisal is not a good idea to actively manage anxiety in the workplace.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Human needs during the new normal

The pandemic has shifted the workforce to different levels considering human needs. We all know Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Those needs are physiological needs which are basic needs, safety needs, belonging & love needs, esteem and then self actualization needs. During the pandemic employees lost their jobs, they were worried about their and family’s health and hence basic needs like physiological, safety and belonging, love needs became more dominant. However, there was another need which we never thought of and that was cognitive needs - knowledge and understanding, curiosity, exploration, need for meaning and predictability. Employees wanted to be aware about the situation, they wanted more information, and a clear understanding of the impact on them. 

Cognitive need is the new need of the new generation. We all know that the future has already arrived and considering the disruptive trends and pandemic the future will be different. In this whole process people are more concerned about their identity. The human being is becoming more smarter, explorer, curious and want to experiment in his own career. 

In any case, you will find five fundamental needs of human beings at new workplaces. 

Identity: They want the identity in the organization. Each human being is different; however, they want what is their role and how they are uniquely contributing to the larger purpose of the organization. 

Image: Atharva Bidwaik

Inclusion: They want to be part of the team. Each member of the team needs to feel part of the team. They want to be included and hence creating inclusive culture is very important. 

Clarity: They want clarity of everything. They need clarity and the impact of different changes on their life. They are curious about what is happening in the organization and how they are engaged in different things.  

Contribution: They want to contribute to the larger purpose of the organization and expect that their contribution to be values and respected. 

Respect and trust: They expect respectful treatment. Organization needs to create the trust capital in the organization.  

Image: Atharva Bidwaik

Employees in the new normal want to be productive and engaged members of the team. They want to accomplish things together. Once leaders start taking care of the above five needs, teamwork will flourish, and your organization will excel towards the best place to work. 

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Executive Presence

Image by Gerd Altmann from 

In the last two articles, we spoke about Gravitas and Signature style. Both are imperatives of leadership and creating authentic leadership. Authenticity, gravitas and signature style make your leadership presence impactful, also called as Executive Presence. 

Executive Presence is a persona that lets everyone around you know that you, as a leader, are in charge, confident and capable of leading others. Executive Presence is not related to the position, power, or hierarchy. It is about creating the impact in a meaningful way. It is about your ability to inspire confidence, in your team that you’re the leader they want to follow, inspiring confidence among peers that you’re capable and reliable and, most importantly, inspiring confidence among senior leaders that you have the potential for great achievements. So executive leadership is not about what position you hold.   

ABC of Executive Presence.

Attitude: It starts with the attitude. The attitude of taking proactive actions, continuous learning, acumen and leading the self and others.

Behaviour: Demonstrating right behaviours and being flexible enough to adjust the mindset in the changing world. For example, during the pandemic, you may have demonstrated behaviours which you might not have demonstrated during the normal course. 

Credibility: It is about how you build a trustworthy relationship and atmosphere around you. You need to build trust, earn trust and gain trust. There are different methods. Being credible also means being consistent in your approach. People will trust you when they know that whenever they approach you, you would give them attention and support to solve their issues. Being knowledgeable in your area, sound in the technical competencies will help in building credibility. 

As per the research, elements of Executive Presence are 

Gravitas: How do you Act? 

Communication: How do you speak?

Appearance: How do you look?


Though the major impacting elements are Gravitas and Communication. Appearance also plays a role to some extent in developing the Executive Presence. Most of us say that appearance doesn’t matter much and that is true to some extent. “Simplicity has the glamour when you are a celebrity. It doesn't always work for common people. People will be judgemental and hence it is necessary to create simplicity with elegance and beauty”. Here, appearance doesn’t mean physical personality. It is about overall grooming, dressing sense and cheerfulness. 

“Always remember, people create perceptions. Everything we do, impacts perception and perception impacts credibility. Hence your overall leadership persona has to be developed considering the impact on others’ perceptions.”  

Few more tips to develop the Executive Presence,

  • Create your own signature style

  • Have a personal vision, and articulate it well,

  • Understand how others perceive and experience you.

  • Build your communication skills, learn storytelling technique, Use proper body language. 

  • Become an excellent listener,

  • Cultivate your network, understand socio-political dimensions of the organization and be political savvy,

  • Be emotionally intelligent, learn to operate effectively under stress,

  • Be polished & poised. Dress professionally, pay attention to your clothing style & grooming.

(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's book are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. Income from books is used for social cause. 

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