Anxiety At The Top: Can You Cope With Leadership?

Anxiety At The Top: Can You Cope With Leadership?

Anxiety bleeds out, from the mental health of individuals into organisations. The spread of anxiety disorders has been studied and researched, with sufferers in the UK estimated to be in the many millions. Does this make anxiety the new norm? Much anxiety in the workplace is down to change, and for business leaders, they face particular challenges that can bring it on.


Anxiety from Change

At a basic level, anxiety is the feeling of unease and impending dread that occurs when you feel threatened or unable to cope. This can happen when faced with new responsibilities and challenges. Leadership positions are highly likely to fall prey to this because they are demanding roles. They are that much more demanding, however, in a climate of organisational change.

“Change and the increasing responsibilities that go with it can take people beyond the threshold where they feel they can cope”, explains ’s Mike Pollitt.  “If leaders become anxious they can begin to make increasing demands upon their teams. This anxiety can then take hold and spread throughout the organisation

Recent NHS figures, showing that stress leave has risen by 37% in three years, illustrate this point.


Leadership Challenges

The responsibilities of leadership are many, but frequently there is a failure to delegate responsibility or define roles. Ultimately this creates anxiety for people in leadership positions and inertia in terms of required actions. This inertia, in the context of organisational change, can then mean that the organisation as a whole suffers because without decisive leadership it then fails to keep up with the external, market demands it faces.


“If someone in a leadership role doesn’t believe they can manage change then pessimism ensues.  This pessimism is the enemy of successful change, and it can penetrate deep into a business’s hierarchy



The key to coping with feeling anxious around change is to enable clearer, and smoother, decision-making by helping to change how people perceive issues and situations.

“Change equals uncertainty which then can lead to feeling anxious”, Mike states.  “Anxiety is an instinctive form of protection: fight or flight. But continuous anxiety can impair cognitive function”.

Anxiety comes from an individual’s unique perspective. The answer, therefore, is to change the perspective.

“If anxiety becomes the norm for a person it can affect their performance”, Mike concludes. “If it becomes embedded in the way an organisation runs, then it will impact on how a company performs overall”.


Mike Pollitt has extensive experience of assisting senior management to successfully overcome issues and develop strategies for realising their business and career goals.  To discover how he could improve your team or business please call True Progress Coaching on 01625 525100 or visit.