If you’re in a leadership position and feeling burned out, you’re not alone. It seems weekly leaders tell me they’re fatigued, exhausted or burned out.
I’m not surprised. In fact, as we prepare for the seemingly endless next waves of COVID-19, finding a leader who’s not tired of the uncertainty is like finding a unicorn in a herd of horses at a rodeo.
As leaders navigated through the past couple of years, the expectation that they will ‘get it right’ has been incredible. The mental and physical fatigue has been building and, as we prepare for 2022, many leaders find it difficult to dig deeper and show enthusiasm for what could be challenging times.
Leadership burnout is typically caused by the following factors:
- excess stress over long periods;
- uncertainty about expectations;
- continuous change;
- dysfunctional dynamics at work;
- unrealistic workloads;
- lack of control.
A few years ago, I wrote an article on business traumatic stress disorder (BTSD). I wrote that the symptoms of business trauma were similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) suffered by those who have experienced physical or mental trauma.
That article garnered international interest, so I started to collect responses in a survey to determine if the symptoms were indeed similar. If you have time, I would love to have your input by filling out the survey.
Considering what leaders have gone through with lockdowns and shutdowns, cashflow challenges, lack of inventory, layoffs and hires, lack of employees who seem willing to work, the rise in remote work and policy changes, it’s no wonder people exhibit some of the signs of burnout. Those signs can include:
- lack of motivation and performance;
- physical or mental exhaustion;
- irritability and impatience with employees, co-workers or family;
- insomnia and sleeping challenges;
- the use of sugary food, caffeine, drugs or alcohol for mental stimulation.
To reduce stress in the workplace and ease leadership burnout, companies are going to need a plan. And government will need to figure out how to reduce their contribution to the stress of leaders in this country.
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The new national culture of fear and panic that’s being perpetuated by some politicians, media and health authorities – in order to drive social agendas at the expense of business – needs to be reined in before the damage from the wave of leadership burnout is greater than any wave of illness similar to ‘flu-like symptoms.’
Unfortunately, many companies and business leaders have no plan for overcoming burnout. Organizations that dismiss the true burnout impact of the pandemic on their leadership team could have a rude awakening when leaders quit or seek less stressful careers.
Dealing with burnout starts with leaders looking out for themselves and those in their team.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Questions about how to overcome the underlying reasons for your burnout? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. For interview requests, click here.
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