Burnout – The Impact to You and Your Leadership Effectiveness

Last week, we expanded on the topic of burnout by exploring the impact it has on bottom-line results and at the organizational level within companies. Working in the hybrid world of work has changed the game from a leadership perspective, and leaders are contending with a lot more in this virtual world than ever before. As a result, some leaders are experiencing burnout or perhaps symptoms of it, which impacts your level of effectiveness as a leader.

Leadership burnout has been described as the state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress experienced by people in leadership roles. 

Factors that contribute to the potential of experiencing burnout are:

  • Working extended hours
  • Lack of clear direction, meaning or purpose 
  • Taking on too much 
  • Lack of support from their respective leader
  • Exposure to toxicity in the workplace 

By not helping ourselves manage these challenges, we may experience some if not all these symptoms:

  • Physical exhaustion: fatigue, insomnia, or a lack of energy.
  • Emotional exhaustion: overwhelm, cynicism, or feeling detached from your work.
  • Mental exhaustion: having difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or solving problems.
  • Decreased productivity: decrease in work quality or quantity, making more mistakes, and having difficulty making important decisions.
  • Decreased job satisfaction: feel disillusioned or unhappy with your work.

Being vulnerable and being willing to identify feelings of burnout is an important first step. By acknowledging your feelings and the circumstances at hand, you can start to take steps to help yourself before burnout sets in. It’s also important to note there is a difference between stress and burnout which is an important piece of this complex puzzle.  

Difference Between Stress and Burnout

Stress and burnout are not the same. The exhaustion that comes with burnout is different from the stress you might have after a long hectic day’s work. 

Research from Gallup reveals that working less isn’t enough to reduce stress, improve well-being or prevent burnout. Gallup’s analysis of employee burnout found that the missing piece is how employees experience their workload that has a stronger influence on burnout than the number of hours they work. Plus, when it comes to overall well-being, the quality of the work experience has 2.5 to three times the impact than the number of days or hours worked. It’s what you’re doing during work hours that really matters.

When we step into leadership, it comes with a high degree of responsibility and it is no longer just about establishing your own success. We are now accountable for delivering results through others by supporting their success, and that can be challenging. What can we focus on to help ourselves as leaders before we experience burnout? Let’s explore some proactive best practices that we can take to help ourselves and ultimately help our people, too.

Proactive Best Practices – Practice What You Preach

We are our team’s biggest advocates. We do our best to create a healthy and engaging workplace by giving them what they need to perform at their best but what about you?  

I have observed many leaders who lose themselves in the process of being there for their people, always being willing to take on that next challenging project or assignment for the betterment of the organization. But they suffer in the end because they have not created any time for themselves to keep their cups full with what they need.  

None of the proactive best practices we are going to highlight are new, and many others we have written about them at length. Here is a friendly reminder that we need to practice what we preach as it relates to:

  • Make self-care a priority – carve out time for you to focus on you – your health, well-being, and development, both personally and professionally. 
  • Set clear and realistic expectations and priorities with your leader and with your team
  • Establish boundaries
  • Ask for help, seek support and delegate 
  • Manage your time effectively, plan and be intentional and purposeful in every interaction
  • Reduce distractions
  • Be present and mindful
  • Practice gratitude
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff; keep things in perspective

What other best practices are you leveraging that help you manage your stress levels? Do you feel you are on the verge of burnout or are already there?  We are here to help and want to hear from you.  Please contact me at 416 560 1806 or leave me a comment here or email me at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca.

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