Why Being a Leader Is Less Stressful than Following

TIME:

While the image of the stressed-out executive or the politician under pressure has been firmly planted in the American mind, research increasingly suggests that it’s actually people lower down on the social scale — not those in leadership positions at the top — who suffer the worst health effects of stress.

Now a new study of military officials and government staffers at a Harvard executive-training program confirms these findings, showing that as people climb the organizational rungs, their stress hormone levels and anxiety typically go down. “Being a leader, especially a high-ranking leader, is associated with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol,” says study co-author Gary Sherman, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, noting that chronically high cortisol is a physiological indicator of stress.

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