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Handling Burnout in Leadership

Palmer Barefield Apr 19, 2023 2:45:00 PM

Burnout is no joke – and it’s affecting professionals everywhere. A study conducted by Asana that examined 10,000 knowledge workers across seven countries reported a staggering 70% of people experienced burnout in the last year; an alarming rate that remains on the rise. And as if lacking motivation isn’t a big enough deal, burnout affects more than just work performance. Burnout has also been shown to lead to increased levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. All that being said – if burnout isn’t taken seriously, it can cause some detrimental problems to even the most productive teams. So when putting a business strategy together, considering what employee wellness and development methods to use in order to prevent burnout is key. 


What is Burnout?

Let’s be realistic; burnout isn’t uncommon, and the chances that you have experienced it are pretty likely. But in the case you’re one of the lucky few to be unfamiliar with the term, we’re here to break it down. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), burnout (a.k.a occupational burnout) is a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy.” And although it doesn’t happen overnight, burnout can be pretty tricky to pull yourself out of; another reason why being proactive about preventing burnout is paramount. 


Understanding Burnout in Leadership Positions

Burnout isn’t picky –  it can affect any professional no matter the position, however, professionals in leadership roles might be more susceptible to it because of the unique challenges they face. For example, leadership positions often require some type of employee management which includes higher levels of responsibility, longer work hours, and competing demands; all of which can become mentally taxing without a break. 

Some early symptoms of burnout might consist of exhaustion, irritation towards their position or company, and lack of motivation - all of which reflect on a leader’s performance. And to make matters worse, leaders that experience burnout set a negative example to the surrounding members of their team, posing the threat of team or organizational-wide burnout. And in today’s competitive landscape, an organization will struggle to stay afloat if all its members are burnt-out.


5 Tips for Preventing and Managing Leadership Burnout

As previously mentioned, the best way to prevent burnout is to be proactive about it. Having a thorough strategy in place to ensure employees are satisfied in their careers can be what helps you avoid the mess of burnout. It also encourages transparency, which promotes a healthy workplace culture and creates an enjoyable work environment. Follow these tips to further prevent burnout.

  1. Prioritize self-care and well-being. It seems like a no-brainer – but when employees have overwhelming workloads, forfeiting a personal break to get another task done might feel like the only option. While this might be okay every now and then, it’s crucial for employers to encourage professionals to take mental breaks to avoid resentment from missing out on real-life events. 

  2. Set boundaries and delegate tasks. Nobody wants to play a guessing game, whether that be a deadline or details in a project, these are things that must be communicated in order to perform efficiently and without frustration. Having boundaries and tasks clearly defined allows leaders to understand what is expected of them – once a task is done; it’s done, and they can move on to the next thing. 

  3. Seek support and feedback from others. Feedback is invaluable. It is a direct reflection of how things in an organization are running and how likely your employees are to feel burnt-out. Welcome all feedback, whether it be negative or positive, so you can deliver what your employees need from you and vice-versa. 

  4. Practice stress-management techniques. We all know how stressful work is. Reiterate the common goal that you are all working towards. Offer some stress-management techniques such as attainable goal setting, prioritization, and open chat rooms that offer additional support.

  5. Take time off when needed. Time off is like a reset button; and the exact reason why it needs to be utilized. Encouraging employees to unplug and make the most of their time off gives them the space they need to release any potential distractions and jump back in with a clear headspace. 

Coaching as a Solution for Leadership Burnout

While the tips mentioned above are all effective solutions to prevent and/or appease feelings of burnout, when paired with coaching, they allow teams to thrive. Coaching is perhaps the most effective method of preventing burnout and optimizing productivity because it helps leaders develop skills, set boundaries, and prioritize self-care. Leadership coaching introduces an external viewpoint to offer expert feedback and encourages innovative thinking; all to contribute to a mindset of growth and development. 


Implementing Coaching for Burnout in the Workplace

Every team is different; meaning each coaching program should cater specifically to the needs of your leaders along with the needs of your organization. Understand the unique challenges of your leaders and the areas of growth they’d like to explore. Find an easily accessible coaching platform equipped with coaches that have the appropriate backgrounds to help leaders excel in areas relevant to their careers. 

The causes of burnout are endless and ever-present, and the impact is vast. Having the correct measures in place to avoid and address burnout will more than pay off in the long run. More than that, investing in a coaching program, like Valor coaching, will fuel engagement, innovation and employee satisfaction. Coaching also provides a ripple effect. So for front-line leaders and managers, that means new skills and mindsets to share throughout their teams and across the entire organization; ultimately making an impact on the overall workplace culture.  Learn more about Valor coaching or meet with the team to explore a customized, scalable solution for your organization. Schedule a demo with Valor today!

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