Preventing Executive Burnout
Finding personal fulfillment along with
trying to maintain life/work balance
has become a colossal challenge for many executives.
The result is job burnout rising to epidemic proportions.
Difficulty dealing with other people, often feeling disconnected and alienated.
Sadness and other negative emotions dominate, or they may not feel much of anything (numbness).
Facing day-to-day challenges feels exhausting and they may experience boredom and loss of enthusiasm for projects.
They may feel disillusioned or cynical.
The most common symptom is exhaustion. They may find it difficult to concentrate and harness the energy to produce quality work especially if their anxiety causes inability to sleep.
They may begin to question whether their work (or life) is meaningful.
Some futilely “work harder,” increasing time spent on tasks, attempting to gain a sense of fulfillment.
Thoughts continually focus on problems rather than solutions. Even when a problem is solved, it’s perceived as not “good enough.”
To cope with their chronic stress, some resort to various substance use or addictive abuse.
Needless to say, all of the above can and does lead to a vast array of physical health issues including headaches, back pain, colds, chest pains, gastrointestinal problems, adrenal exhaustion and sometimes even accidents.
The next step is talking with someone, preferably a coach or therapist, who can listen objectively and compassionately and assist in making a step-by-step plan to help turn things around.
As the corporate treadmill moves ever faster, with companies striving for higher levels of performance, quality, service and market share each fiscal year, all levels of employees feel the constant pressure to perform.
Not surprising, being in a position of responsibility with others depending on you creates even more anxiety.
With tougher targets to attain, more complex organizational structures, a rapidly changing marketplace, competing demands, the threat of obsolescence and portable technology that doesn’t allow for any time off, executives carry the potential for burnout constantly.
Statistically, those showing the most promise at the beginning of their careers are likely to succumb to burnout fastest.
The stereotypic profile is that of an idealistic perfectionist, overly conscientious with high energy levels and positive attitude. They are dedicated and committed to doing well no matter the cost. Over time, however, the ever increasing job demands lead to stress, dissatisfaction, pessimism, hopelessness and apathy.
A high achiever may also believe that it’s unacceptable to admit their worries, compounding the problem by grinning and bearing it alone. Even with an executive coach who can spot and deal with this syndrome, denial and pride may get in the way of fully addressing burnout until it results in serious impairment.