Human Resources



Stress helps bosses make better decisions

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Bosses really benefit from being placed in stressful situations, particularly if they feel they already have the tools in place to manage stress.

This is according to new research out of the Ashridge Business School, where 350 business leaders aged between 25 and 55 were exposed to simulated board-level stressful situations, such as dealing with conflict, high-level decision-making and stressful conversations.

The Leadership Experience: Leading on the Edge study monitored their heart rate and used their physiological data to analyse their performance under pressure over a period of two days.

Being able to regulate emotions is essentially for leaders in high-pressure situations, but stress can break our concentration and hamper decision making.

However, the outcome of the study was that regular exposure to stress helps train the brain to make better decisions when the pressure is on.

In fact, learning in a stressful environment is a powerful way to increase cognitive abilities in the long-term, as most leaders tend to perform at their peak when both their brain and body are stimulated by a stressful situation.

The researchers found significant correlation between raised heart rate during stressful situations and perceived learning, while also finding a significant correlation between raised heart rates and learning during a control event.

Image: Shutterstock

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