Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Crafting solutions for leaders’ well-being and effectiveness

Author: Faculty of Management

Posted on Jan 18, 2024

Category: Research

Photo: Dr. Patrick Bruning and Dr. Hsin-Chen Lin have published a study that highlights the leadership strain-management process and provides leaders with a roadmap to navigate challenges and thrive amidst these roles.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business and organizational management, the spotlight on leadership has intensified. The success or failure of ventures is often pinned on the capabilities of those at the helm. As the demands on leaders continue to soar, the need to manage stress and maintain well-being is critical. Leaders find themselves not only navigating the complexities of their roles but also confronting the shared challenges and stressors that permeate our contemporary world.

Recognizing this demanding reality, a recent research paper authored by two professors from UNB’s faculty of management, Dr. Patrick Bruning and Dr. Hsin-Chen Lin, along with their co-author Ching-Yi Hsu, delves into the intricacies of leadership strain management. Titled "Crafting solutions to leadership demands for well-being and effectiveness," the paper offers valuable insights into how leaders can proactively manage their work demands and foster personal well-being in the process.

The paper leveraged a description of the leadership strain-management process to provide leaders with applied guidelines for managing their work demands and well-being. In simple terms, the strain-management process involves leaders using the various resources they have at their disposal to apply creative problem-solving (i.e., coping) to address and resolve work requirements and other distressing occurrences in a healthy and productive way.

The coping activities and resources that leaders use to manage their stress and strain can be cultivated from a variety of sources, summarized below:

  • From the leader’s organization or supervisor: Examples include financial support, policy support, and information/human/technology resources.
  • From external sources: Examples include knowledge, feedback, training, and family/friend/industry support.
  • From lateral internal sources: Examples include knowledge, feedback, training, and colleague support.
  • By followers’ responses to active leadership behaviors: Examples of active leadership behaviors include transformational behaviors, contingent reward behaviors, empowering behaviors, ethical behaviors, and authentic behaviors.
  • From personal resources by self-managing their thinking and taskwork processes: Examples of this self-management include problem-solving, cognitive reframing, work organization, adopting new knowledge and resources, cognitive detachment from demands one cannot otherwise address, and decreasing unnecessary and problematic aspects of one’s work.

The paper provides five suggestions to develop a more healthy, effective, sustainable, and personalized strain-management strategy:

  1. Develop an efficient strategy for managing leadership demands.
    • Understand the nature and implications of your demands.
    • Understand what resources you can use and where to get them.
    • Use standard efficient procedures wherever possible.
    • Monitor the effectiveness of your coping strategy on an ongoing basis.
  2. Engage in active leadership behaviors to develop sustainable resources and self-management capabilities of your followers.
    • Behave in a way that develops and empowers followers.
    • Pursue sustainable resources for the team.
    • Lead in a way that balances being authentic to yourself and congruent with your team.
    • Minimize activities that do not resolve major or ongoing challenges.
  3. Manage non-leadership demands and resources in a focused and effective way.
    • Organize work, pursue challenging goals, and acquire new knowledge/resources.
    • Prioritize constructive responses over avoidant responses.
    • Consider the immediate and long-term implications of your work methods.
  4. Manage relationships in a mindful way.
    • Develop and maintain relationships for learning, resources, and opportunity.
    • Be aware of your influence vulnerabilities.
    • Manage commitments in a way that minimizes detrimental vulnerabilities.
  5. Find a way to minimize the impact of stressors that you cannot control.
    • Re-interpret uncontrollable stressful situations to minimize their implications.
    • Use structured problem-solving to address complicated challenges.
    • Avoid repeating negative thoughts not used in structured problem-solving.
    • Find a time and a way to detach from uncontrollable stressors.

Dr. Bruning is a member of the business administration area in the faculty of management and teaches courses in organization behaviour, motivation, and leadership, while Dr. Lin is a member of the marketing area, teaching courses in marketing and social media marketing. Published in Business Horizons in 2022, their study highlights the leadership strain-management process and provides leaders with a roadmap to navigate challenges and thrive amidst these roles.

Learn more about Dr. Patrick Bruning, Dr. Hsin-Chen Lin and the Faculty of Management.

Media contact: Liz Lemon-Mitchell