How to Avoid Leadership Burnout
Owning a business can be hugely rewarding, but it’s rarely easy. The stress and pressure of launching and growing a business can be downright overwhelming.
Our high-demand, 24/7 work culture only adds to this pressure, and founders can easily fall into the “never-not-working” trap. They might neglect their health and personal lives and deny themselves even the most basic pleasures. This is a recipe for burnout.
What Is Burnout?
Burnout is a reaction to chronic job stress. It can sap the joy out of work, personal relationships, and life in general.
If you’re burned out, you might feel exhausted, detached, empty, or depressed. You may struggle with indecisiveness—especially around high-stakes decisions.
You might feel less confident in your choices, and you may experience emotional ups and downs that leave you prone to angry outbursts, or, conversely, that cause you to withdraw.
It’s only a matter of time before leadership burnout starts to negatively impact your employees and company culture. It’s hard to make good decisions when you’re burned out, and your employees may start to bail if they sense things are going downhill.
Why Burnout Happens
Leaders today are under immense pressure to perform. They’re expected to be passionate yet cool-headed, visionary yet restrained, and pioneering enough to take the organization to new heights. It’s a constant juggling act.
Burned out leaders may feel hopeless, cynical, and unmotivated. As their quality of work begins to suffer, they may take out their frustrations on those closest to them—burnout is a common reason work partnerships fail.
It’s easy to ignore the warning signs of burnout. But continuing to work at a destructive pace and neglecting your health isn’t sustainable. Burnout costs companies billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, employee turnover, and low morale.
Here’s what you can do to prevent burnout and strengthen your business in the process:
Empower your employees to do more.
Fear of failure can lead to micromanagement. “I can’t let anyone jeopardize what I’ve worked so hard for,” the thinking goes.
But overmanaging stifles employee motivation and creativity, leaving you with the full burden of moving the company forward.
Let go of trying to control every project, client pitch, or marketing campaign. Empower your employees to bring their own creative ideas to the table—and let them share in your success. When employees feel they have a stake in the company, they’re more likely to do their best work.
You don’t have to give up all creative control. But you do need to ensure your employees clearly understand, and are on board with, the full scope of your vision.
Prioritize your health and well-being.
You know the drill: Eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. It’s easier said than done, and that’s why you must make these things a priority.
Try preparing and freezing a week’s worth of healthy meals on the weekend. Save time by putting together work outfits before the week starts, or adopt a work uniform.
If you struggle with insomnia, look at your before-bedtime habits. Cut out the late afternoon espressos and scale back on alcohol, both of which are known to interfere with sleep.
Join support networks.
So many entrepreneurs and business owners feel alone in their struggle. Support groups and business networks can help.
It may seem like one more thing to do when you’re already overwhelmed. But talking to other business leaders about the trials and tribulations—and triumphs—of running a business can be rewarding. It’s a chance to share, learn, and get advice from those experiencing similar challenges, and others who are further along on their journey.
Lean on friends and family.
Most of us avoid socializing when we feel like we’re on a downward spiral. Yet, spending time with trusted friends and family is often just what we need. Supportive friends can be powerful allies against burnout.
Even if you feel like you have no time to spare, schedule get-togethers with friends and family members who you know help “fill your cup.” Reach out to an old mentor or former colleagues you admire.
Disconnect from devices.
Never in history have so many people been expected to be available at a moment’s notice, day or night. Technology may be a constant presence in our lives, but we’re simply not evolved for a constant barrage of texts, calls, emails, and notifications.
If being offline evenings and weekends is out of the question, at least designate specific times to check emails and respond to voicemails. You’re not a machine.
Burnout can stop you in your tracks and hurt your success. Recognize the signs of burnout and commit to living a more balanced life. It will take some effort, but it’s worth it in the end.
Get Inspired with Inner Space
One more thing you can do to prevent burnout: Listen to the Inner Space podcast, hosted by world-renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen. Listeners get an inside look into how some of the most well-known leaders in politics, film and television, fashion, and wellness protect their own mental health and well-being.