“I could not take any more pressure…”These lines from the letter that Founder VG Siddhartha wrote to Cafe Coffee Day staff before going missing and eventually succumbing to suicide highlights the plight of leaders in today’s stressful globe. While organizations have started to take measures to assist staff handle stress levels, the ones at the top are very lonely.
CEOs around the globe have had several instances of suicide. MindTemple founder and psychiatrist Anjali Chhabria said there is an increasing trend of Indian CEOs and corporate leaders seeking assistance in overcoming stress.
While professional CEOs are controlled by inner performance metrics, which provides them with the window to move on if under-performing, stress levels are said to be greater for start-up entrepreneurs driven by high valuation pressures.
“With a higher chorus around allowing staff to accomplish a work-life balance, there is pressure on entrepreneurs to take on the additional workload and bring in longer hours. Today’s start-up job culture is no longer what you saw a few years ago when it used to be buzzing with activity and individuals worked till late. Millennials are interested in logging out early in the evening. This puts enormous pressure on leaders to complete the remaining job. So, at the top, it becomes more and more lonely. Also, most founders are not equipped to manage individuals and therefore also suffer from stress on that count,”said Xpheno’s co-founder Kamal Karanth, a staffing specialist firm.
Entrepreneur support groups have picked up the pace to assist them manage any kind of problems. Founded by Marico Chairman Harsh Mariwala, Ascent Foundation provides a peer learning platform to help growing entrepreneurs who meet frequently and share their experiences, thoughts and perspectives in an extremely private, secure and non-judgmental setting. “The platform’s function is to facilitate and enable entrepreneurs to learn. It has helped several Ascent cohort entrepreneurs share their professional and personal difficulties and find meaningful outlets,” Mariwala said.
Mariwala, who also has a private philanthropy effort— the Mariwala Health Initiative (MHI) that addresses mental health problems— said a workplace stress management culture is very critical. The same would also apply to leaders. Chhabria’s advice to them, “Many leaders are perfectionists, they can’t tolerate any mistakes they make. My advice would be to put aside your ego and laugh at your mistakes.”