We found that leaders (people who indicated that they managed others) had lower cortisol levels and less anxiety than nonleaders whom we drew from the local community. This is true even when accounting for demographic variables like age, gender, education and income.
Clearly, leaders are less stressed than nonleaders. But do leaders, as a group, enjoy equally low stress levels? Or might differences in rank and power among leaders matter?
To answer this question, we recruited a new sample of leaders. This time, rather than compare leaders to nonleaders, we looked at gradations in power and rank within the group. We found that leaders in more powerful, higher-ranking positions exhibited lower cortisol levels and less anxiety than lower-ranking leaders. Notably, we also found that the lower stress of higher-ranking leaders was explained by their greater sense of control.