Leadership Resources

Leadership Resources from the Carlson Executive MBA Program

Evaluate and Manage Work-Life Balance (Identify Burnout)

Burnout is a 3 component syndrome that arises in response to stressors on the job. 

  1. Exhaustion
    1. Physical, cognitive, and emotional fatigue
    2. Stems from “always-on” 24/7 cultures, intense time pressure, lack of control
    3. Unable to concentrate or see the big picture. Routine and enjoyable tasks seem arduous
  2. Cynicism
    1. Feel detached and negative from work and colleges
    2. Results from work overload, high conflict, unfairness, lack of participation in decision making
    3. Constant cynicism is a sign of lost connection to work
  3. Inefficacy
    1. Feeling of incompetence, lack of productivity
    2. Often develops in tandem with exhaustion and cynicism
    3. Results from lack of resources and information, autonomy, feedback

While each component correlates with the other two, people have individual burnout profiles. It’s good to diagnose a specific syndrome to know where most help is needed.

Recovery and prevention strategies

1.  Prioritize self-care:

a. Replenish your physical and emotional energy, along with your capacity to focus, by prioritizing good sleep habits, nutrition, exercise, social connection, and practices that promote equanimity and well-being

2.  Change your perspective : 

a. Take a close look at your mindset and assumptions. What aspects of your situation are truly fixed, and which can you change

b. For exhaustion: ask yourself which tasks—including critical ones—you could delegate to free up meaningful time and energy for other important work

c. For cynicism: can you shield yourself from the parts of the organization that frustrate you, while re-engaging in your specific role and the whole enterprise? Or could you build some positive, supportive relationships to counteract the ones that drain you? 

d. For Inefficacy: what assistance or development might you seek out?

3. Reduce exposure to job stressors:

a. Reset the expectations of colleagues, clients, and even family members for what and how much you’re willing to take on, as well as ground rules for working together here

4. Seek out connections

a. Seek out rich interpersonal interactions and continual personal and professional development

b. Volunteering to advise others is another particularly

c. an effective way of breaking out of a negative cycle

Link to HBR Article on Beating Burnout