The latest management theory is that stress is essential for continuous improvement and growth, according to the Financial Times.
In his book Just Enough Anxiety, psychologist and consultant Robert Rosen argues that human kind has evolved to deal consistently with change and danger – hence the development of the “fight or flight” mechanism. Complacency, the opposite of anxiety, is the enemy of innovation, adaptability and growth because it provides no impetus to change.
“It’s time to embrace change, uncertainty and anxiety as facts of life… we can use our healthy anxiety as a positive force for growth,” Rosen told the paper.
Bain consultants Mark Gottfredson and Steve Shaubert use economics to make a similar point in their book Breakthrough Imperative – because markets and customers are always changing, and because prices and costs will always tend to fall, not being anxious to improve is deadly to business longevity and success.
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The challenge, of course, is managing anxiety so you reap the benefits of the boosts it provides without it overwhelming you or infecting your workmates. It’s the Goldilocks prescription – not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.