It may be lonely at the top, but being a leader isn't that stressful, research has found.
A US study of more than 200 leaders and non-leaders has shown bosses experience less anxiety than their underlings.
And the more senior the manager, the less tension they feel.
Academics from Harvard and Stanford universities assessed the difference in stress levels between community members and government and military leaders enrolled in a Harvard executive education course.
Stress was measured by physical markers, such as the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in participants' saliva, as well as psychological indicators, which were based on participant's anxiety reports.
On both measures, leaders – people who manage others as part of their job – experienced less anxiety and had lower levels of cortisol than those below them in the workplace, regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.
A second study only of leaders found that the more senior the supervisor the less the worry, with lower cortisol levels the higher the rank.
Seniority was based on the number of a manager's subordinates and direct reports as well as their authority over workers under them.
The researchers attributed leaders' lower stress to their positions, which typically afforded them a greater sense of control.
"Holding a leadership role boosts one's sense of control, a psychological resource known to have a stress-buffering effect," one of the researchers, Jennifer Lerner, from Harvard University, said.
Specifically, the study found managers with more subordinates and more authority over those subordinates felt a greater sense of control.
However, personally managing more people was not linked to less stress.
"Perhaps [this is] because ascension to a high-ranking position encourages one to delegate the day-to-day management of subordinated to lower-ranking officials," said Dr Lerner, whose findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
The research adds to previous studies in non-human primates that had found higher social rank was associated with lower cortisol levels.
Human studies have also shown individuals who believe that they have control over their lives have lower cortisol levels.
But the researchers acknowledged control was only one factor that contributed to lowered workplace stress.
Other factors included social support and active coping. They also suggested people with low stress levels may be well suited to leadership roles and therefore chose to pursue authority positions.