Kat & Alex

How to Address and Prevent Leadership Burnout

Has anyone checked on the leaders? Managers might seem like they’re holding it together, but leadership burnout is running rampant. Here’s what employers need to do next.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

In the wake of the “Great Resignation” and what has been a candidate-driven job market, it’s not surprising that the spotlight has been on employees. 

They’re burnt out. They need flexibility and balance. They crave career advancement. They constantly have one foot out the door or an eye on greener pastures.

That seemingly shaky footing has left many companies and leaders scrambling to shift their policies and beef up their perks in order to keep their best talent on the payroll.

But here’s an important question: Has anybody checked on the managers?

We won’t sugarcoat it: It has been a challenging time to lead a team. Supervisors are bearing the brunt of the ever-evolving employee demands and expectations, and market fluctuations.

Managers are the ones having the tough conversations with employees about mental health and burnout. They’re the ones listening to feedback and hashing out plans. They’re the ones shifting workloads and trying to keep things running smoothly. They’re the ones laying awake at night worried about retention and performance—all while trying to keep their own careers moving forward. 

As a result? They’re dealing with many of the same struggles their employees are saddled with: 

  • In one Deloitte survey, 76% of higher-ups said the pandemic has negatively impacted their overall health.
  • In the same survey, 81% of executives said improving their own equilibrium is more important to them right now than advancing their career.
  • Gallup research found that managers report more stress and burnout along with worse work-life balance and physical well being than the people they manage.
  • Nearly 60% of leaders report that they feel completely used up at the end of the day. 

Managers are supposed to be the ones confidently leading the way for their teams—but that’s next to impossible when they feel drained and depleted themselves.

And yet? Despite being in positions of power that add a lot of value to organizations, they’re often overlooked or forgotten. It’s their job to execute surveys and act on feedback. But when do they get to participate and offer their own two cents?

Employers need to remember that leaders are resilient, but that doesn’t mean they’re bulletproof. They’re susceptible to doubt, frustration, exhaustion, and burnout just like any other employee, and they require support to stay engaged in their jobs. Companies should:

  • Encourage leaders to take advantage of company benefits (whether that’s paid time off, mental health counseling, flexible schedules, or something else) in the same way employees are.
  • Schedule frequent check-in conversations with leaders (and not just employees!) to see what they need help with and how they’re feeling.
  • Offer adequate resources and training so that leaders feel empowered to handle the tougher parts of their roles, whether it’s leading a hybrid team or talking about sensitive issues.

Employees might be the ones in the driver’s seat for now, but it’s important for employers to remember that it’s usually their direct manager who’s fueling the engine—and they might run out of gas. 

So employers? It’s time to check on your leaders. While you like to think they’re unstoppable, they might not be holding it together as well as you think they are.