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Burnout in Leadership Roles

Hamilton Lindley writes about identifying and treating burnout in leadership.

Burnout in any industry is pretty pervasive. And with more and more people beginning to pay attention, we’re starting to notice just how much it affects someone’s professional and personal life. The average employee is under a fair bit of stress, but we can often make the false assumption that the person in charge — that next level of leadership — is free from the day-to-day worries that the people “in the trenches” face.

But burnout in leadership is no rare, esoteric phenomenon. There are a lot of leaders facing extreme amounts of stress and, yes, even burnout daily.

With this in mind, I wanted to write an article addressing a few ways we can treat burnout.

Signs of Burnout

  1. Physical and emotional exhaustion
  2. Cynicism and detachment
  3. Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment

If the above symptoms sound like something you’re experiencing throughout your day-to-day, you’ll want to stick around for a few tips on how to remedy burnout.

Fixing the Issue

It’s essential – especially when dealing with burnout – to get at the heart of the issue. Remember, merely medicating the symptoms doesn’t fix the cause. But burnout often has some pretty simple root causes. The trick is digging deep enough to discover the source.

Typical Causes & Remedies

  1. Too Much Work: This is different from work piling up from time to time, as that happens to all of us. But if you’re consistently behind because the workload is enough for a whole team, you may want to live by the 4 Ds: Do, Drop, Delay, Delegate. What needs to be done right now by you? What isn’t worth your time? What has a deadline that’s far enough away that pushing it by a bit won’t make it worse for you in the long run? And, finally, what can you outsource out to your team?
  2. Lack of Accomplishment: One of the downsides of a leadership position is the big-picture focus that often accompanies it. If you recently moved into a leadership role, you may be used to having small, tangible tasks you completed daily. But now, with the shift from day-to-day to bigger company goals that may be a quarter away or even a year out, developing a system to track little progress that leads up to the whole is imperative for both business success, peace of mind, and stability.
  3. Different Path: Sometimes, it simply comes down to incompatibility. If you’ve given it all you’ve got, a square peg is not going to fit into a round hole without one of the pieces breaking. It may be the case that your time at your current job has run its course, and if you’re in a position to move onto another role, then this may be just what you need.

While this is far from an exhaustive list, I do hope these simple tips can help you or someone you know struggling with burnout. Often, it helps to get assurance that we’re not alone and that there are some tried and true methods of curing burnout. 

I hope and pray this starts that road to recovery for at least a few.

Please be sure to share this article if you think it’s helpful. No one facing burnout should feel alone, and it’s important to remember that hope and healing exist — and sometimes in straightforward, tangible solutions!

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