Konga CEO suicide: How to handle the pressures of being a boss

The shocking passing of former Konga CEO Nick Imudia, who allegedly jumped to his death from his Lagos flat, has raised concerns about mental fatigue among those in high-pressure professions.

At the time of his alleged suicide, the quadragenarian was CEO at D.Light, a company that pioneered the distribution and financing of innovative home goods and services, including solar energy solutions for residential use. From the outside, he appeared to be living a life of financial stability. 

Despite their generous pay, CEOs are among the socio-professional groups most affected by workplace stress due to the weight of responsibility that comes with their jobs.

Fast-paced or overloaded workloads, performance objectives, employee competitiveness, lack of recognition, insufficient human and financial resources, job insecurity, and criticism from superiors or coworkers can all contribute to workplace stress.

Furthermore, it usually builds up until they eventually give in, resulting in them crying during a meeting, saying something they later regret, experiencing a panic attack, struggling to get out of bed in the morning, or even causing a self-inflicted tragedy. 

CEOs can remain in this rut for weeks, months, or even years before experiencing burnout. If you care about your mental health and want to escape this rabbit run, you need to identify the causes of work-related stress.

What causes stress in demanding occupations?

Managers and entrepreneurs must distinguish between employer pressure and self-imposed pressure. 

In the first scenario, your superiors have set extremely lofty and nearly impossible goals for you to meet. 

The second scenario involves factors under the individual's control such as perfectionists frequently struggling to cope with the pressures of their jobs.

Failure to allow yourself to make mistakes, as well as being too harsh on yourself, can lead to despair.

In order to maximise your working time, you find yourself constantly juggling multiple responsibilities at once, which is obviously not sustainable in the long term.

To appear tough and hide your flaws, you constantly put your bosses, coworkers, and employees ahead of yourself. Perhaps you believe that you can only achieve your goals by putting in a lot of effort.

You and your employees both require a satisfactory work-life balance if you want them to give their all on the job, as none of the aforementioned will help them achieve the goals that many businesses strive for.

Are you aware?

  • The negative effects of job stress are so severe that workplace policies are in place to protect pregnant women. 
  • Unless there are exceptional circumstances, no employer can fire an employee while pregnant, during their maternity leave, or for the four weeks afterward. 
  • Women who are pregnant are not required to inform their employers, but they should notify the occupational health department if they are concerned that their job may put them at risk of stress.

Indicators of work stress

  1. 1. Problems falling or staying asleep

    Sleep problems are one of the best indicators of work-related stress, as the constant whirlwind of tasks can make it hard to get quality sleep.

    You should be concerned if, for example, you check your email first thing in the morning and start thinking about work soon after waking up.

  2. 2. Extreme tiredness

    Fatigue is real. Working under constant stress causes people to lose interest in their work, become indifferent, and eventually procrastinate.

    You must act quickly before the situation worsens, because not getting enough sleep makes it more difficult to avoid work stress.

  3. 3. Mental breakdown

    Your job's demands can push you to your limits, as a single comment, piece of advice, or gesture sends your emotions into explosion, resulting in tantrums, and even tears.

    As the tension permeates everything, your family life becomes a test of your patience.

  4. 4. Persistent aches and pains

    When small health issues, such as backaches, migraines, and stomachaches, start to become more serious, you should seriously consider these changes before you experience the type of burnout that could leave you bedridden.

How to handle workplace pressure as a boss

Get professional help

Do not hesitate to see your occupational physician at the first sign of stress; he or she may advise you to take time off work.

If you are a manager in a corporation, contacting an employee representative or the Labour Inspectorate can help alleviate workplace harassment and excessive workloads, for example, by reminding employers of their employees' right to disconnect if they believe it is necessary.

If you think you might be the source of this stress, it could be helpful to speak with a psychologist. They can help you understand your feelings and find ways to manage them effectively.

How do you deal with difficult situations at work?

The first and most important step is to identify the cause. Developing an objective understanding of your challenges will allow you to address your most pressing concerns.

Prioritise tasks clearly

Many anxious CEOs feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of responsibilities they face, underscoring the importance of effective time management for stress reduction.

Learning to say no, delegate, and keep work out of your personal life can be useful at times.

When feasible, managers should delegate less critical but equally important responsibilities to their subordinates. 

Create a weekly schedule for your job. Entrepreneurs would constantly struggle with time and stress management unless they understand what is most important.

Working overtime means you either don't trust your employees or coworkers enough, or the workload is too heavy, forcing you to consistently work extra hours, even on Sundays.

One of the most valuable skills a manager can have is the ability to politely decline additional tasks from above.

If you explain the situation and demonstrate how new responsibilities are technically impossible to fulfil, he or she is more likely to reorganise the department or hire more people.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Adopting a healthier lifestyle is critical, but this advice may appear insignificant because it will not address an immediate need to relieve stress. However, if you want to improve your mental and physical health over time, you should limit your alcohol consumption, eat well, and exercise regularly.

According to numerous studies, living a healthy lifestyle improves our ability to cope with stress. Feeling confident in your body allows you to think clearly and reflect on your actions, allowing you to handle difficult situations before they become more serious.

Participating in physical activity for at least one hour per week is an effective way to reduce stress.

Endorphins are chemicals that reduce anxiety and tension, and exercise aids in their release. It may also help improve sleep quality, which is important for long-term stress management.

Get at least six hours of sleep per night, exercise regularly, and eat healthily.

Taking care of oneself is a stress reliever and a necessity for entrepreneurs. This includes taking it easy and going to the gym once per week.

Take time off

Entrepreneurs may believe they need to work around the clock to keep their businesses running. Nonetheless, taking frequent breaks is critical for avoiding burnout and effectively dealing with stress.

A coffee break or a short walk may be sufficient. Longer breaks, such as a vacation or even a single day off, are also an option.

Even if the company relies on the leader, he or she should make time for themselves. To avoid stress, divide your time between work and your personal life.

Balance professional and personal lives

Right on cue, taking care of yourself outside of work is another way to improve your career.

Maintaining contact with friends and family can help you stay sane when work becomes overwhelming.

Management should value the ability to disconnect as much as employees do. Entrepreneurs already have a lot on their minds with the introduction of new technology, which makes it difficult to distinguish between their professional and personal lives.

To avoid this issue, simply establish specific business hours when you are available to your employees and clients. Even if it is easier said than done, you should give it a try.

Another way to keep your personal and professional lives separate is to turn off your phone and not check your inbox after business hours. In straightforward terms, genuinely strange yourself from work. 

Never isolate yourself

Isolation is a common mistake we make when under stress. Actually, confiding in friends or coworkers (e.g., in a management network) may make you feel more confident.

With the help of an empathetic third party, we can usually gain a better understanding of what is going on and how to respond.

Regain your self-confidence

Uncertainty about one's abilities is a significant source of stress. Managers put themselves in much greater pressure when they question their ability to deal with a particular issue.

Stepping back and looking at the situation objectively may help alleviate these concerns. Managers are humans, and errors will always occur; it is the nature of business.

Recognising the company's successes before focusing on areas for improvement can help you regain your self-esteem.

When should I seek help during times of extreme stress?

An entrepreneur's stress levels can become dangerously high at times.

If you are feeling down, overwhelmed, or on the verge of burnout or depression, schedule an appointment with your doctor and seek support from loved ones.

Many businesses fail due to lack of seeking assistance. Entrepreneurs may feel compelled to juggle too many tasks at once, but doing so jeopardises their mental and physical health.

There is no shame in seeking help when you need it or delegating tasks to others.

Entrepreneurs may find it invaluable to receive support from family members and other business owners who have gone through similar experiences.

When looking to connect with other business owners who are going through similar experiences, social media can be a lifesaver.

Creating a stress-free environment for employees eases your own pressure

A manager's job is far from easy, so ensure that everyone is on the same page and enjoying themselves at work since this inadvertently transmits to you. 

A lack of this could have negative consequences, including work-related exhaustion. As a result, you must pay close attention to your employees' current situation.

Take a deep breath and ensure that you are not emitting any negative energy that may be causing concern in others.

Make the necessary changes to your organisation and provide your employees with attainable goals. Promoting autonomy helps employees feel confident. A manager's kindness is a valuable soft skill.

One final piece of advice: make the workplace healthier for employees. Many minor details, such as welcoming environments, well-lit workspaces, and comfortable chairs, can increase your employees' productivity.

Final note: Important details

Burnout threatens more than one out of every ten workers.

Burnout disproportionately affects executives.

There's a distinction between self-imposed and employer-imposed pressure.

Occupational stress can cause sleep disruptions, irritability, weariness, and discomfort.

Occupational doctors, labour inspectors, employee advocates, and psychiatrists are among the resources available to assist you in circumventing a tense work environment.