Study Finds High Level Leaders Experience Less Stress
The study, led by academics in psychology, business, and public policy, calculated the amount of stress participants experienced through their levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and a series of interviews. What the researchers found was surprising.
It has been a common understanding that high-level leaders are paid more in order to endure higher levels of stress, but as this study concluded, high-level leaders feel more at ease because they have a greater sense of control. According to the study, the more responsibilities a participant had, the less amount of corisol they had, thus reporting lower levels of stress.
The researchers studied a group of 231 leaders and non-leaders who agreed to regular hormone testing and answered a series of "yes" or "no" questions aimed at understanding what does and does not cause stress in higher-level leadership positions. To check the study, researchers gathered community members in the greater Boston area who had similar characteristics as the previous group of participants. They found equivalent results.
Though being a high-level leader does not necessarily mean a lower level of stress. James Gross, a Stanford psychologist and one of the authors of the study, hypothesized that people who generally experience less stress are those who continue on to more demanding leadership roles, instead of rising to a high-level leadership position and lowering one’s stress level.