Are leaders linked to burnout?

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Coaching, Leadership, Relationships (Self and Others)

Deloitte reports that approximately 77% of US professionals have experienced burnout at their current job, with more than half experiencing it more than once. Not surprisingly, 70% of professionals feel that their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout with 21% saying that their company does not offer any initiatives or programmes.

Companies need to consider workplace culture, not just well-being programmes because one in four professionals say they never or rarely take all their vacation days. The top driver of burnout is cited as lack of support or recognition from leadership, indicating the important role that leaders play in setting the tone. I think that leaders often underestimate the role they play and the influence they have. Furthermore, many leaders themselves are feeling stressed and overwhelmed and have unhealthy work habits fuelling their own burnout risk.

Let’s take practical Key Steps to use our influence and instill PRIDE – where PRIDE is an acronym for healthy workplace habits that promote healthy cultures and enable us to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

P = Create a positive psychologically safe work environment. Cultivate a psychologically safe workspace where mistakes are met with curiosity rather than judgment. Use positive language and focus on what people need – how people feel about coming to work really matters. Creating a safe and nurturing atmosphere not only makes employees feel valued but also reduces stress and burnout, making them happier and more productive. When people feel safe to speak up and share their views, anxiety decreases, and engagement and productivity increase.

R = Recognise everyone’s efforts. Personal recognition is a powerful motivator. The science to support this is endless, yet we often forget to give valuable feedback and acknowledge and celebrate individual and team efforts regularly. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” This highlights the immense value of recognition. Surveys indicate that lack of recognition is the top reason people leave their jobs. Sincere appreciation and feedback foster a positive work culture, reducing burnout and enhancing morale. Remember to recognise and celebrate progress made when learning from mistakes too. Foster a growth mindset in yourself and others by celebrating effort and learning rather than just end goals.

I = Involve, include and invite perspectives. Engage employees at all levels in decision-making processes. It has a major impact on improving morale, motivation, profit and productivity. People are more committed to objectives that they’ve helped to define. They also feel more confident that they can reach the agreed-upon goals. The result? Better performance. When people are deeply included and invested, they take ownership.

D = Develop people. Focus on developing emotional intelligence and resilience in your team. Encourage continuous personal and professional growth. Goethe said, “Treat people as though they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being. Training and education not only motivate employees but also make them more capable, innovative, and satisfied, fostering a stronger leader-employee relationship and reducing stress.

E = Evaluate with empathy. Continuously measure and evaluate performance with empathy. Be vulnerable and share your own experiences to build trust and understanding. Regular discussions and effective systems for tracking activities help leaders provide better guidance. Empathetic evaluation ensures that feedback is constructive and supportive, helping to prevent burnout. Furthermore, ensure that evaluation is two-way and when people speak up about challenges they face, archaic systems or processes that don’t serve them and so on – listen with gratitude and take action to bring about change. These everyday micro-stresses cause continual anxiety and frustration that build up and are one of the leading causes of burnout.

You can be part of the solution and help alleviate burnout. It’s worth re-reading the above with your family in mind too and let’s holistically take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’




NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free bi-weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, EQ Expert, Founder and CEO

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’