4 min read

Leadership Burnout: What Causes It And How To Avoid It

Burning a candle from both ends causes a burnout

‘I can’t do this anymore.’

‘I think I am not cut out to be a leader.’

Do the above sentences sound familiar? As a leader, you may be more vulnerable to burnout. Your adrenaline systems are under continuous attack with little capacity to recover. Being a leader means that your life is at the intersection of being overwhelmed and sheer exhaustion. Leaders often struggle to muster their internal enthusiasm, motivation, or energy for the aspects of their work that they previously enjoyed. As a leader, you may worry about your career progression more than your commitments.

Prominent causes of leadership burnout:

  • Overcommitment is often a direct result of the inability to say no or create healthy boundaries, which causes leaders to be stretched out too thin.
  • Leaders who have a strong work ethic and value quality of work can mainly be susceptible to leadership overwhelm as being a perfectionist at all times can be exhausting.
  • One of the most apparent causes of leadership burnout is working around a schedule that lacks consistency and adequate opportunity for psychological rest and recovery.

Other causes of leadership burnout include:

  • Lack of direction or clear expectations about the role.
  • Countless responsibilities.
  • Communication gap with colleagues or stakeholders.
  • Endless work sprints and conflicts.

Here are a few tips to avoid leadership burnout:

  • Having a routine of self-care and taking breaks between work helps you relax. We are constantly bombarded by information vying for attention. It is good to unplug from all devices and take a break after the day ends. Exercising, eating healthy and spending time outdoors also helps take the mind off work.
  • Developing core working hours and increasing efficiency by streamlining processes and delegating tasks can help mitigate burnout.
  • Become more discerning about the work you take on and put an end to unrealistic deadlines. Learn to communicate how much work you can take on and what you cannot realistically handle.
  • Become aware of the signs of burnout, especially in terms of its onset and progression. The worse the burnout, the more time it will take to recover. It is essential to check in with yourself every month and track the amount of work handled and done.
  • Take accountability if you are feeling burnout or overwhelmed. Projects, conversations, events and juggling between meetings are not inherently stressful, but stress is a perception. Beware of your feelings, take care of your mental health and voice your feelings of burnout.

Recognise the signs of burnout that may sabotage your success and hold you back from reaching your full potential. Being a leader is also being human, and working like a machine is not sustainable over the long haul.

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