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Leadership Under Pressure: Taking Care of Yourself

You know the adage: no pressure, no diamonds. But with at least 44% of leaders feeling burnout and considering switching companies, has pressure become too much? Leaders of today need to take care of themselves more than ever. Today, we’re discussing how to recognize burnout in the first place and the best way to deal with this added pressure.

Pressure has always been considered a good thing. You know the adage: no pressure, no diamonds. Leaders know pressure a bit too well. A recent study surveyed over 15,000 leaders and 2,000 human resources professionals across 24 industries globally. It looked at the many leadership changes before and during the pandemic. Nearly 60% of leaders reported feeling used up by the end of the day, one of the first indicators of burnout. At least 44% of leaders felt that way expected to change companies, while 26% planned to leave within the following year. Leaders who do not feel burnout (24%) plan to switch companies soon. 

When leadership is under pressure, it’s challenging for organizations to find effective ways to fight The Great Resignation. As the study also found that:

  • CEOs are worried that quality leadership is in short supply.
  • Organizations are facing significant quality leadership gaps.
  • The leadership bench hits an all-time low.

How to Recognize Burnout

While many have heard the concept of burnout, it isn’t always easy to spot – mainly when your job is already considered a stressful position. For many leaders, the downsides of their roles are expected. However, burnout is much worse than ordinary fatigue. It makes it challenging to cope with stress and even handle your responsibilities like usual. People experiencing burnout often feel like a squeezed lemon with nothing left to give. They often adopt a pessimistic outlook toward their role, work, and even life. 

Burnout is now recognized as a “syndrome” that results from “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” according to the International Disease Classification by the World Health Organization. Thanks to this, we now know the types of symptoms that help us identify burnout:

  1. Exhaustion. Feeling physically and emotionally depleted. You may experience constant headaches, stomachaches, loss of appetite, or sleep changes. 
  2. Isolation. Burnout individuals tend to feel overwhelmed. As a result, they may start withdrawing from social events and even isolate themselves from family and friends. 
  3. Fantasizing. As people feel dissatisfied with their jobs, they fantasize about leaving their jobs, moving to a different country, and going on solo vacations. In some cases, they can experiment with drugs and alcohol to numb their feelings. 
  4. Irritability. Burnout can cause some people to lose their temper with almost anyone. It suddenly becomes challenging to cope with everyday stressors like a work meeting, tending to household tasks, and dealing with things that don’t go as planned. 
  5. Illnesses. Burnout can lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and insomnia. Chronic burnout that’s ignored can lead to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. If you feel you’re constantly getting sick and stressed, it might be time to consider burnout. 

Set Boundaries to Prevent and Control Burnout

Avoid the consequences of burnout by setting healthy work boundaries. It’s important that you pay attention to what’s happening and set boundaries from the start:

  • Take time off. Make sure you separate work time from leisure by the end of the day by planning your day accordingly.
  • Learn to say no. Consider whether an extra task or commitment will genuinely help you achieve your goals, and if it doesn’t, don’t hesitate to turn it down. 
  • Communicate clearly. Communication is critical when setting boundaries at work. Let your supervisor know, or your HR department know how you’re feeling to protect yourself from more emotional distress. 

At the end, when leadership is under pressure, workers will feel it too. Become very sensitive about how you present yourself to your team members. Please beware of the symptoms of burnout and actively prevent them by exercising, sleeping well, eating healthy, and taking time to rest.