Tips for Healthy Leadership and Minimizing Burnout (Part 1)

Don’t discount or ignore burnout — in yourself or among your employees. It’s a very real thing and could have a significant impact on you, your team, and your organization in the coming year(s).

Most of us know it when we see it, but typically, burnout is “… a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress (Psychology Today).” Burnout often shows itself as some combination of weariness, physical and mental fatigue, pessimism and cynicism, impatience, anger, health issues such as headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and depression, and the temptation to turn to alcohol, drugs, and food for relief. For more about burnout, read Arden Coaching’s blog, “Burnout vs. Stress: Which One Are You?” By executive coach Eva Szekeres.

Healthy Leadership Requires a Healthy Leader

It may sound cliché, but you really do need to take care of yourself first. The metaphor of what to do on an airplane, in an emergency, when the oxygen masks drop, is spot on — put your oxygen mask on FIRST, then help others.

1. Are you taking regular physical and mental breaks? We all find ourselves in different circumstances, but take care of yourself as best you can. Go back to the basis — get enough sleep, eat nutritious foods, and exercise. Are you setting some boundaries between work, family, and personal time? Identify and implement three small, doable changes to help you take a healthy, restorative breather. For more, read “3 Wellness Hacks to Improve Your Productivity.”

2. Does your effort and work — in all aspects of your life — have meaning? What’s the purpose of it all? Having a sense of true meaning matters greatly. If your purpose is clear, announce it to yourself regularly. Express gratitude for it. Renew it in your mind.

If you find that your purpose and meaning no longer moves you, or is vague, or absent altogether, focus on creating and defining meaning for yourself in those areas. Write it down. Proclaim it!

3. Do you feel that you have control? Burnout is more likely to occur when you feel that you have no control about what work needs to get done or how it is accomplished. Describe an aspect of your work or personal life where you feel that you have no control (or have lost control). Identify two or three steps you might take to take charge and chart your own course.

4. It’s time to review and adjust our expectations. We have big plates — and they have always been full. Leaders are busy, accomplishment-oriented people. We work to be more productive and make our plates bigger. But the pandemic has added things that simply did not exist before 2020, from new home environments, at-home-schooling, and COVID testing to new work arrangements and needing to attend a zoom meeting about things that used to be addressed in casual hallway conversation.

It’s unfair to expect your work capacity, for example, to be the same as it was two years ago. There are limits to how big our plates can be. So, instead of piling more on it, modify your expectations and prioritize the things you need to do. Focus on the most important things and let go of some of the rest. What is one task or project that you might take off your plate? Try it and see what the impact is after a few weeks. Can you, your family, or your organization live without it? Read more: “3 Ways to Give Yourself a Bit of Grace,” by Arden Coach Kelly Ross.

Next: Part 2, More Tips for Healthy Leadership and Minimizing Burnout — focusing on your team and your organization.

To learn more about healthy leadership and improving your leadership skills, contact the executive coaches at Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.