What happens when your leaders burnout?

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

We are at about the 3 month mark (give or take) with the pandemic and it has been exhausting.

A common feeling is one of weariness. "How much longer is it going to last?" we ask, fatigued by the urgency of demands, the breakdown between home and work, and the loneliness from social distancing. Add in the pressure of all the bad news, and the pressure on friends & family and the stress is enormous.

This makes all of us susceptible to burnout. We've been working an adrenaline, and perhaps shifted over to coping. But that is not sustainable for 18 months.

Looking ahead, we will get sick, the quality of our decisions is bound to deteriorate, and organizational results will worsen.

What can we do?

One option is to help individuals with practical strategies. This could include maintaining a work-life balance, finding purpose in your work, maintaining social relations, proper nutrition and limiting social media. In other words, things that make sense in non pandemic times, that are even more important now. All of it is easier said than done.

Another option is to think about the way work gets done.

Why do we ask so much of leaders and managers? Can we limit their load?

The answer lies in the way we have responded up to this point. According to McKinsey, in the heat of the coronavirus crisis, organizations have been forced to work in new ways, and they are responding. Clear goals, focused teams, and rapid decision making have replaced corporate bureaucracy. They have shown what is possible — namely, that a flatter organization that delegates decision making down to a dynamic network of teams is more effective.

Organizations are also showing a more profound appreciation for matching the right talent, regardless of hierarchy, to the most critical challenges. With critical roles linked to value-creation opportunities, new leaders are emerging from unexpected places.

These changes line up with what we knew before the crisis started: that rooms of smart people are smarter than the smartest people in them. When combined the expertise and insights of teams is still under-utilized. Before leaders and managers start to burnout, smart organizations will be making greater use of the collective intelligence of their teams.

Many organizations, however, will slip back. They will be subject more to inertia, than to the possibility of transforming.

Your thoughts as always are welcome.

If you'd like to learn more about what leading organizations are doing, do not hesitate to reach out.

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