How do I manage feeling stressed and burned out as a leader?

Managing stress and burnout as a leader involves several strategies that can help you build resilience, set boundaries, and redefine your role to ensure you are working effectively without depleting your resources. Here are some steps based on the insights provided by Ed Batista:

  1. Invest in Resilience-Building Activities: Engage in activities that build resilience, such as meditation or other forms of mindfulness practice, regular exercise, and consistent sleep. These are not indulgences but necessary investments in your effectiveness as a leader. They require a daily commitment and prioritization over urgent-but-not-important demands. [6][7][8][9][10]

  2. Set Firm Boundaries: Instead of striving for an elusive "life-work balance," focus on setting effective boundaries. These can be physical or temporal separations from work, allowing you to direct your attention toward other activities. It's up to you to identify and enforce these boundaries, which may involve taking risks to test what is sustainable for you in the long term. [11][12]

  3. See Yourself Clearly: To avoid being consumed by the "distortion fields" of elite leadership, such as deference from others and a sense of grandiosity, it's important to maintain a grounded sense of self. This can be achieved by stepping out of the elite bubble, seeking candid feedback, investing in relationships outside of work, and engaging with literature that reminds you of life's transience. [6]

  4. Extend Your Personal Runway: Assess your "personal runway" and take steps to remain in your role long enough to make a desirable transition. This can involve getting support from an executive coach or other sources, redefining your role to align with what is most valuable and fulfilling, and ensuring your financial needs are met to avoid feeling pressured to make a suboptimal move. [2][3][4][5][6][7]

  5. Create Space for Deep Work: Recognize that as a leader, your value comes from setting the right course and creating an environment for others to excel. This requires making time for deep work. Schedule open space on your calendar in advance for reflection and strategic thinking, and communicate the importance of this time to your colleagues, family, and friends. [5]

  6. Practice Self-Care: Understand that self-care is crucial for maintaining the interpersonal effectiveness required of leaders. This includes mindfulness, fitness, rest, and calm. By investing in self-care, you're better equipped to manage the challenging interactions and decisions that leadership entails. [5]

In summary, managing stress and burnout as a leader is about integrating resilience-building practices into your daily life, setting and maintaining boundaries, staying grounded, preparing for transitions, creating space for deep work, and committing to self-care. These steps can help you sustain your energy and effectiveness over the long term.