What happens to us when we get stressed out? Under stress people tend to either over-perform or under-perform. The over-performers swing into action. They compile a list and they methodically work as hard as they can to get through everything on the list on or before the due date. Under-performers let the over-performers take over. Under pressure they fall to pieces, projects are left undone, we find holes in their work. Most of us who have risen in the ranks of association leadership, I suspect, are over-performers. We are getting it done.
But the divide doesn’t stop at over-performers verses under-performers. Among over-performers there are two groups. Those that you would want to work with even in the middle of a maelstrom and those you wouldn’t. There are some people you can count on to get things done but they are not very nice about it. You can see they are stressed. They are so focused on achieving the goal they forget to focus on people and relationships too. While effective, this kind of working style feels abrasive to other staff, board members, managers and even members.
Then there are the over-performers who are lovely to be around even in the busiest of times. They too get things done but instead of abrasive they are easy going. Determined but kind. Goal-oriented but calm. You can see they are busy but they don’t seem stressed. This kind of working style inspires trust in staff, board members, managers and members.
By all means hire, cultivate and promote all the over-achievers. Show them how to be more like the kind, calm over-achieving group. We have ultimate control over how we appear in the world, stressed out or not.