Seven Leadership Behaviors For Avoiding Burnout


When times get hard, our natural response is to work harder.  That’s fine for a short period of time, but over the long term, the risk of burnout increases.  This leads to fatigue, emotional disengagement and ultimately breakdown.

Some people are hero style leaders, the sort that believe they can and will do anything.  They have a high risk of burnout.  If that is you, here is a challenge.  I bet you can’t do the opposite to your normal response and slow down.  Instead of blindly working harder, try out some of the leadership practices below.  Hopefully they will open up some new possibilities.

Seven Helpful Leadership Behaviors

  1. Make clear decisions on what will and will not get done based on current constraints. When something gets added, something is removed from the list. Communicate priorities clearly and frequently.
  2. Make it safe for team members to say “No” and decline requests.  This is the start of an important conversation.  When receiving a “No” respond with understanding and consider asking, ‘What could you do?’, ‘What would it take?’, ‘What help do you need?’
  3. Delegate appropriately by making clear requests, setting clear decision boundaries and expectations. Stay connected and support as necessary.
  4. Be a good coach by asking powerful questions and listening well.  Coach the other person to see new possibilities and don’t take on their responsibility. You cannot afford to become a bottleneck.
  5. Be willing to ask for help. Draw clear boundaries around the time you will and will not work. In the long term, doing more and more is a path to diminishing returns.
  6. Be aware of and respectful of others’ commitments, both personal and professional. Don’t assume they have nothing important to do.
  7. Practice self-care. Eat well, sleep well and get regular exercise.

What do you do to avoid burnout?