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Leading On Empty: How Leaders Drive Their People To Burnout

August 1, 2019
Borderless Leadership

So here’s the dilemma: you’re a CEO, a senior leader, or a high-level manager at a large company. You know that a significant percentage of your employees are feeling overworked, overwhelmed, exhausted, and less than fully engaged.

You agree, philosophically, that when people take care of themselves, they feel better, and maybe even work better. That’s why you spend money on wellness programs.

But deep down, you also believe that working harder and longer than everyone else is what made you successful, and in a disrupted, intensely demanding, fiercely competitive world, that’s honestly what you think it takes.

So where’s the disconnect?

The answer is mindset – the often unconscious beliefs and assumptions that leaders evolve based on the corporate cultures they grew up in, what worked in their own careers, and what felt true as a result. “More, bigger, faster is better” has been the mantra of free-market capitalism ever since the Industrial Revolution. As recently as 1973, the average American worked 1,679 hours per year. In 2015, that number reached 1811 hours. That’s the equivalent of more than three extra weeks of work a year. The result is an epidemic of overload, overwhelm, and burnout among employees at all levels in companies around the world.

To combat this problem, global corporate spending on workplace wellness programs has now reached $50 billion annually. The problem is that several studies, including a recent one by the National Institute of Mental Health, suggest that workplace wellness programs have failed to improve people’s health much at all, or to significantly change their experience at work. That, we believe, is because leaders rarely role-model or actively support the programs and practices they fund.

Leadership burnout begets employee burnout
How often do you or other leaders in your company send out emails late into the evenings and over weekends? To what extent do leaders at your company expect people to respond to emails and join conferences calls even when they’re on vacation? How many of your leaders role-model a balanced life and actively support others in taking care of themselves?

By:  Tony Schwartz & Emily Pines

Source: Forbes

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