It appears Shakespeare was wrong when he wrote, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” Stress levels reduce as people move up the ranks.
Moving up; calming down
New research concludes that positions of leadership are directly linked with decreased stress levels. Jennifer Lerner, a professor of public policy and management at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, commented: “We live as social beings in a stratified society. It’s our relative status in a group that disproportionately influences our happiness and well-being.”
Other studies reached same result
In addition to this study, the Whitehall studies of health in British civil service recently revealed that high rank of government officials was directly linked to decreased death rates. Researchers in another study measured cortisol, a stress hormone, in baboons and discovered that the hormone was less prevalent in those ranked higher in the troop.
Most researchers admit that comparing stress levels is difficult because cortisol levels and anxiety are not automatically associated with each another. Still, most also agree that leaders who are high in the ranks are less stressed.
Control and confidence
Why would this be? Control seems to be an important characteristic of leadership. There may be a certain amount of comfort or peacefulness found in having a staff which takes care of the details. Stress levels are directly related to the number of people working for the leader.
Nevertheless, it’s impossible to know the correlation. Does leadership create a calmer life or does one deal better with stress prior to landing in the leadership role? “By looking at real leaders, people who really have a lot of real-world responsibility, we can learn a lot about stress and health in general,” said Lerner.