9 Ways Leaders Can Boost Morale and Lower Stress During Tough Times

Today's workplace is fraught with difficult emotions and tension. As a leader, be sure you deal with those head-on or risk the consequences.

Layoffs, a worsening economy, too much to do and too little time to do it. No wonder we feel more stressed than ever.

Anger, low morale, depression, lack of interest and fatigue are just a few of the side effects.

And those emotions don't get checked at the door of the workplace—especially considering work is an increasing source of stress for so many, says Maureen Moriarty, executive coach and founder of Pathways to Change. The cost of ignoring those feelings is high—absenteeism, turnover, and low morale to name few.

Emotional intelligence (the ability to identify and manage emotions) is important for anyone who deals with other people. But as a leader, you have great influence over the morale of others. That's why it's doubly important to develop your own emotional intelligence, and create a work environment where excitement, motivation and enthusiasm have the best chance of growing.

Here's how. (When you're done with the slideshow, be sure to give us your tips on how to relieve stress and how to boost workplace morale.)

Learn to identify your own emotions.

Books, classes (even some unusual ones), family and close friends, and coaches can all be sources for developing more awareness of your emotions and learning how to use those emotions to better inform your behavior. Moriarty also says keeping a journal of events and subsequent feelings and actions or even jotting down that information on sticky notes (including what your body feels like, e.g., tense shoulders) will help you become more aware of patterns and give you insight into your feelings and actions. Especially note how you respond to others.
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