In the most basic engineering sense, all buildings are under both pressure and stress. Pressure represents the external forces that constantly push and pull a building in different directions. Stress is the internal weight a building must bear, including its own. A well-built building will be able to stand up under both pressure and stress. It is described as having good structural integrity.
Like buildings, both businesses and people (leaders especially) are subject to pressure and stress. Pressure will often appear in the form of unexpected circumstances. Common examples include: employee issues, worse than expected performance of the business, customers not paying their debts, etc. Pressure can also take the form of expected external circumstances. Examples of these include: monthly debt service to lenders, report deadlines, forecasting expectations, taxes, etc.
Many times when people are under pressure, they'll say, "I feel really stressed". Then when asked why they're stressed, they'll begin to list a bunch of circumstances that are actually external pressure points. Stress occurs when external pressure becomes internal weight. Often times the transfer from external to internal occurs when a failure in structural integrity has taken place. Once the failure has occurred, the person or business is exposed to a very real danger, danger that takes the form of a temptation to do the wrong thing...think Enron. This is a very sad, and very serious reality of the world in which we live.
Thankfully though, it is possible to maintain sound structural integrity within your business. There are a few basic components that every business needs to make that happen. Effective planning, budgeting, and cash flow management are major safeguards against integrity failure. Knowing your company's monthly cash flow needs, future tax liability, and/or required debt service coverage can go a long way to ensuring that external forces don't become internal weight.
Are you under a lot of pressure? Is it making you feel stressed? Let's get together and put a plan in place to eliminate the stress, and deal with the pressure!