What Causes Burnout?

Leaders who pay close attention to what causes burnout have an advantage. They develop an early warning system, a heightened awareness that will allow them to know when they need to take action to address some particular situation. They become sensitive to warning signs.

Here are two simple signs. Obviously they may appear as complaints we all make, but left unaddressed over a protracted period of time, they lead to frustration and disillusionment. Addressing them is a key to stress management.

Too Much

We can develop a sense that there is just too much demand for something – hours, physical energy, emotional involvement or concentration. Again, none of these things are bad in and of themselves. It’s when they are required with too great an intensity or quantity over a prolonged period of time.

For instance, leaders who are in the caring fields are vulnerable to having too much demand placed upon them. Sometimes that demand comes from others. Sometimes it is self-generated. In some cases, if you couple this with cutbacks or other financial pressures, you have a recipe for personal disaster that simple stress management might not even solve.

Not Enough

If you can have too much demand for something, you can also have not enough resources to handle that demand. What causes burnout is not having enough resources or reserves to draw from when you need it. Those resources may include control of the situation, time off to recover and refresh, skill, knowledge, assistance, or even attitude.

If you have intense demand over an extended period of time with diminished resources, you run the risk of stress, overload and increasing burnout symptoms. Leaders become demotivated, dispirited and even depressed. Periods of intensity require adequate resources to meet the demand.

Pay Attention

These two, a sense of too much demand and a sense of not enough resources to handle that demand over an extended period of time are trends that the wise leader needs to be attuned to. They will affect your people. You need to be able to discern the difference between the background noise of everyday complaining and legitimate deeply felt concern.

Here is the key point. When you sense either a long period of ‘too much’ or ‘too little’, what will you do about it? Take this as your call to action. Awareness with action will lead to solutions.

Essentially there are only two methods to deal with burnout. Either decrease the demand or increase the resources available to deal with it.

We Invite You to Contact Us

Over a number of years we have coached many leaders and executives experiencing overload and burnout. In our initial conversation we can talk more about your situation, what causes burnout, and determine if and how we might assist you.

Call our office at 705.687.2711 or email us here.