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The Silent Mental Health Crisis: Leadership Burnout

Management Today UK | Bill Borrows | Jul 19, 2022

Burnout - The Silent Mental Health Crisis:  Leadership BurnoutThe hot topic is burnout: the recognition of it, the fear of it, the actuality or consequences of it and, increasingly, taking the steps necessary to help prevent it.

There is a silent mental health crisis. Major changes and disruptions caused by a global pandemic, looming economic uncertainty, logistical challenges, hybrid working, profit warnings and complications arising from the Great Resignation are all helping to fill the waiting rooms and diaries of bespoke business gurus, psychiatrists and life coaches all over the world.

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These conversations are happening discreetly, because society seems to believe that if someone is “successful” – highly paid, in a position of power – they don’t deserve sympathy. So not only are leaders saddled with the responsibility for setting the prevalent culture within their business to prevent their staff from burnout, they must also remain somehow immune from the stress and strain of their high-pressure jobs for fear of being seen as “weak”, dismissal and failure.

It defined it as: “A syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

Ways to avoid burnout

Surround yourself with good people:  Learn to delegate. If you have the right senior leadership team in place (ie. trusted and competent work colleagues who would feel free to bring up key issues on a one-to-one basis), you will feel comfortable sharing the workload.

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Plan your day:  Prioritise your tasks and don’t allow yourself to be deviated. Unexpected events are one of the major triggers of stress, which in itself is a huge contributor to burnout, so try to plan for every eventuality.

Lead a healthy lifestyle:  Make time to exercise. Cycle to work if possible, go to the gym at least twice a week. Keeping fit will increase the oxygen levels in your blood and help you stay alert. Avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks. Stay hydrated.

Signs that you are experiencing burnout

Sleep deprivation/exhaustion:  Insomnia is the most common symptom of the executive who takes work home with him/her and cannot turn off. This is one of the most debilitating aspects of the vicious circle that accompanies burnout and exacerbates all extant problems.

Over-indulgence/uncharacteristic risk-taking:  You are running away from something or seeking to replace the adrenaline that got you to the top position in the first place. There are obviously attendant health issues here – both mental and physical.

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Cynicism:  If drivers such as pride, ambition, challenge and even money now seem unimportant or even meaningless, then you are heading for burnout. If thoughts of “chucking it all in” are becoming commonplace, then you may be about to make a catastrophic life decision and should take a break.

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