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Six Ways to Grow As a Leader Without Burning Out

Burnout reared its ugly head long before the COVID-19 storm hit us

Raise your hand if you’ve experienced burnout at some point. I spent the last four years of my career as the spokesperson for the FBI in Northern California. The news cycle doesn’t recognize weekends, vacations or time at the beach. I was on call 24/7 for the entire four years. By the end, I was irritable, impatient and without a support network because, guess what, I had no time for interpersonal relationships.

Burnout may be a bit like true love — hard to define, but when it smacks you in the face, you know you’ve been hit. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines burnout as a phenomenon driven by chronic unmanaged stress. These are some of the more prominent signs of burnout:

  • Energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Mental distance from one’s job
  • Negativity
  • Reduced professional efficacy
  • Cynicism

Too often, self-care is touted as the cure for burnout. And while well-being is a good start, it takes more than yoga, meditation apps and gym memberships to address the burnout experienced by employees. Think about burned-out people as canaries in the coal mine. When the canary keels over, we acknowledge that the environment is hazardous — we don’t bury our heads and pretend all is well.

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