The five signs of leadership exhaustion

For over a year now, the pandemic has caused highly disruptive change to businesses worldwide. This constant state of stress and uncertainty has taken its toll, so much so that we are now seeing a new challenge on the rise, leadership exhaustion.

Could you or your team be feeling the effects of it? Here are five signs of leadership exhaustion.

1. Decision fatigue

Leaders have to make so many decisions each day to ensure the company and team are aligned and heading in the right direction to reach the goals and vision set – and ensure it is both profitable and sustainable over the long run.

Through periods of high and disruptive change, there is a need for rapid and more frequent strategic decision making that is often done under stress and duress without any certainty that it is the right decision.

When suffering from leadership exhaustion, these decisions can get even cloudier. A once decisive leader who was confident in their decision making can start to look to everyone else for their thoughts and opinions. At this point, their decisions can become delayed, less confident, and more aligned with others instead of the goals and vision for the company.

2. Lose sight of the vision

The uncertainty an exhausted leader feels doesn’t just impact their confidence in their decisions; it starts affecting their confidence right across the board, which is where they can start to lose sight of their vision.

Instead of keeping their eyes on the horizon and making decisions for the long-term play, everything becomes short-term. It becomes a case of what we have to do to get through this week, fortnight or month as that is all they are capable of – or have the energy – to manage.

Without the long-term view, the company can quickly go off course, and your goals and vision get further and further away.

3. The capacity for empathy is reduced

It’s not that an exhausted leader no longer cares, but rather that they don’t have the same capacity to empathise to the level they once did. Empathy takes energy – a significant amount of it – when considering all viewpoints and reactions to a situation or decision.

You might find that an exhausted leader stops asking for other’s thoughts and feelings on the subject. Their level of checking in on employees and their wellbeing may reduce, and the conversations you have with them may not have the same depth of understanding. You may also find they become irritated over the slightest things.

4. Passion turns to poison

The very passion that often drives a leader’s success can often become their poison. Lack of sleep, stress, and overwhelm, particularly in high periods of change, can be enough for even the most motivated and passionate leader to burn out.

With leadership exhaustion, you will often see the passion and motivation fade away. Where a leader was once animated and enthusiastic, they can become disengaged and unmotivated. Their once inspiring pep talks can be replaced by a pessimistic outlook on the world, and they can appear as being ‘beaten down’.

5. Avoiding responsibilities

At its worst, leadership exhaustion can see a leader avoiding their responsibilities through unhealthy delegating or not doing what they are meant to be doing.

This is not to be confused with a leader reaching out for help because they’re behind in their to-do list. This is a blatant avoidance of responsibilities, and often of the people, they are accountable to.

This is where leadership exhaustion can turn destructive and bring out self-sabotaging behaviour because they don’t want or don’t feel capable of doing what they should be doing anymore.

Are you or your team at risk of leadership exhaustion?

Being a leader is no small feat, but it can be easier when you have support and guidance from an expert coach. Someone you can call on to talk through challenges, identify opportunities, brainstorm solutions, and can offer the experience that can help to unpack the issues, enabling you to take you and your company to a renewed level of growth and success.

This is exactly what we do at Turning Point Partners through our executive coaching. Call us today on 1300 278 345 to find out how we can support you before you burn out entirely.

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