Dr Howard Awbery
Corporate burnout is an addictive, overwhelming exhaustion and a complete inability to function, get out of bed, or undertake work in any capacity. I have carried out an in-depth five-year study into corporate burnout and found that it affects around 20% of leaders.
Most commonly, corporate burnout affects high-performing leaders in the first 10 years of their career, and is often described as “overachiever syndrome”. The impact of corporate burnout affects individual performance and wellbeing, as well as team and ultimately, corporate performance.
I use the analogy of a downward moving escalator to describe the different stages of corporate burnout:
1. At the top of the escalator is the Resilient Leader
The performance of a Resilient Leader mirrors exactly the ever-changing organisational demands and they stay comfortably at the top. As the workload fluctuates, these leaders cope well with the changes of pace. The Resilient Leader experiences minimal risk of work-related stress, depression, anxiety, or corporate burnout.
Some of the classic indicators of corporate burnout are:
Some behavioural changes that could signal depression resulting from corporate burnout include:
2. One third of the way down the escalator are the Self-Recoverers
These are leaders who are gradually carried down the escalator no matter how hard they work. However, they are sufficiently in control to understand the unsustainability of the situation. They step off and drive changes to their personal way of working, the performance of their teams, they re-establish “normal” hours, and often have difficult conversations with line leaders.
With these changes they are at low risk of work-related stress, depression, anxiety and corporate burnout and, in time, their situation is eminently recoverable.
3. Two thirds of the way down the escalator are the Assisted Recoverers, who require assistance to recover
Having travelled this far down the escalator, these leaders are completely unaware of their lack of performance or the impact they are having on their teams. They need a Recovery Buddy to point out the abyss they are heading for, and together, establish a personal recovery strategy offering the support necessary to return to the top.
These leaders are at very high risk of work-related stress, depression, anxiety and corporate burnout, but with help, they can recover completely.
4. At the bottom of the escalator are the high performers who are suffering from complete burnout
These leaders need very long recovery periods to overcome work-related stress, depression, anxiety or corporate burnout. They will require intervention and support over a long period.
Dr Howard G Awbery is MD and founder of Awbery, a company specialising in delivering high-impact leadership and management development programmes, HR and coaching solutions, and wellbeing strategies. For more information visit www.awberymanagement.co.uk, Tel: 01283 703828, @AwberyTweet