Monday, October 1, 2012

Leadership May Offer Protection Against Stress

Although it is generally assumed that leaders are more stressed than nonleaders, quite the opposite seems to be true, Jennifer Lerner, Ph.D., of Harvard University and her colleagues reported online September 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They studied leadership stress in community members and in middle- to high-level government officials and military officers who were enrolled in an executive-education program at Harvard. The reason why leaders tend to be less stressed than nonleaders despite the extra pressure that comes with leadship roles, they found, is that exerting leadership offers individuals a sense of control that likely reduces the level of stress they feel.

Stress is critical to health, of course, because it can trigger a broad range of mental and physical illnesses. Yet it's not short-term exposure to stress, but long-term exposure to it that ultimately plays havoc with the immune system and leaves people vulnerable to illness, studies in the burgeoning field of psychoneuroimmunology show. More information about this subject can be found in Psychiatric News.

(Image: Sashkin/