The 24-Hour Rule: The #1 Source and Solution to Workplace Stress

Feeling tired and stressed

In The 24-Hour Rule, bestselling author Charles Fred examines the epidemic of workplace stress by concentrating on the top of the organizational chart.

Forty percent of US employees report feeling highly stressed at work, a National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) report finds. The alarming statistic adds to mounting evidence that points to an emerging epidemic of workplace stress, one that continues to undermine employee health, satisfaction, and performance.

A new book by bestselling author Charles Fred examines this trend through a new lens. The 24-Hour Rule presents the research conclusions of Fred and his team, which find that leaders are the single greatest source of stress. The cause, as Fred explores, comes from a new mental model that encourages leaders to see success as working faster, harder, and longer hours, and encouraging their teams to do the same. And despite the visible consequences of a stressful work environment—including diminished performance and increased employee disengagement—leaders often fail to recognize their role in spreading stress. That’s because they lack a feedback loop—a mechanism to identify the consequences of their actions. As a result, many leaders only discover the problem after unplanned employee turnover, poor financial performance, or other measures.

The rise of technology and the constancy of work doesn’t make it easier for leaders. Fortunately, Fred offers a solution he calls the discipline of pause—the process of intentionally deliberating before acting, which affords leaders the mental clarity to respond and react to other people in the best manner possible. How leaders respond and react represents the one variable in their power to control, and when harnessed with discipline, it empowers them to improve their lives and leadership, as well as the performance of everyone with whom they lead.

Fred doesn’t offer one approach to the discipline of pause. He writes that pausing depends on the person and his or her situation; people need to find what works best for them. He does, however, offer three guidelines for starting the process. First, he encourages leaders to take notice of stress levels at work, which he believes they can observe and measure. Next, leaders should make a commitment to pausing, which includes talking about it with their teams. And last, leaders should take a full week to experiment with different strategies and assess their results. After the week, they should engage their team to gather their feedback.

All indicators suggest that the prevalence of workplace stress will continue its upward trend. Yet leaders can reverse the current trajectory by fully embracing and adopting the discipline of pause. That means becoming aware of the mental model that drives a chaotic work environment, recognizing the extent of leaders’ influence among their employees, and taking full control over the one variable in leaders’ power to influence, which, when used deliberately, can lead to exceptional results.

You can order The 24-Hour Rule by visiting Amazon. Magnusson-Skor offers a special discount and free shipping for purchases of 10 or more books, which is available here.


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