When we talk about burnout at work, the conversation usually focuses on employees, not managers. But leadership burnout is an equally important issue, especially because engaged managers are vital to the health of an organization.
According to Gallup, 70% of a team’s engagement is influenced by managers. And it’s not enough for managers to simply supervise their team, the evolving workforce expects managers to be a coach and a boss. In order for your organization to thrive, it’s crucial to identify and remedy signs of leadership burnout.
What does leadership burnout look like?
The World Health Organization defines occupational burnout as the result of chronic workplace stress without proper relief. Leaders experiencing burnout display “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy.”
According to the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, occupational burnout among leaders is on the rise. A staggering 60% of leaders report feeling “used up” at the end of every workday, an unmistakable sign of burnout. This finding could be attributed, at least in part, to the inherent challenges of leading a team remotely. The vast majority of leaders surveyed (80%) reported feeling ineffective at leading virtually.
What causes leadership burnout?
Leaders have a high level of responsibility but don’t always receive the resources they need to manage those responsibilities effectively. It is well understood that employees expect their job to offer development opportunities, but managers are not often given the same freedom to grow. In fact, according to Gallup, most organizations underinvest in leadership development for managers.
Other causes of leadership burnout are more obvious. Managers often work demanding hours and experience the mental fatigue that accompanies significant decision-making. Leadership roles can also be isolating. Without peers to confide in, managers may feel they have no appropriate outlet to cope with workplace stress.
How to remedy leadership burnout:
Recognize leadership moments. Senior leadership should vocally recognize when managers are leading effectively. Managers who receive recognition for their leadership efforts will feel more engaged and inspired to continue. Plus, direct positive feedback helps managers appreciate what they are doing well, rather than becoming bogged down by what overwhelms them.
Delegate responsibilities. It is not uncommon for a manager who has risen through the ranks to retain some of the duties they were responsible for earlier in their career. However, managers should relinquish control and delegate those tasks whenever possible. Delegation frees up the manager’s schedule to lead successfully, while giving employees an opportunity to learn and grow.
Build virtual leadership skills. Since 80% of managers report feeling uncertain about their ability to lead virtually, it is worth investing in training and resources to ease this mental burden. Managers and employees need the right tools to make virtual communication easy, but they also need a clear plan. This means communicating how virtual channels should be used, scheduling one-on-one meetings, and frequently asking for feedback.
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