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Rise from the Ashes

Do you believe that burnout is for wimps? Do you believe that you are the Energizer Bunny that will keep going and going long after the others have fallen grasping for their computers and spreadsheets? If you do, then you are either:

  • Still early in your formative leadership development and have not yet “hit the wall,” so you’re not exactly sure what that means
  • Right now in the darkness of massive burnout and in denial about it
  • Relying heavily on the “miracles of modern pharmacology” to survive

The leader is the heartbeat of the team, department, division, or company.

If your heart is no longer able to beat in the rhythm that’s required to sustain quality leadership, the rest of the people will also experience serious “palpitations” and be unable to function effectively.

Leadership burnout is closely related to the difficulty of learning to pace yourself. It’s what happens when the over-worked devil has delivered his fatal blows and has made you run too hard for too long. You may no longer have the desire, the mental stamina, or the physical energy to deal with yet another problem, one more resistant follower, or any other roadblocks to your success. You are done! You are burned out. You are unable to lead effectively. You likely can’t even follow well.

When you, as a leader, burn out, the impact is more far-reaching than for a “regular” person’s burnout.

When the leader is no longer willing and able to lead well, nothing too positive happens. The leader’s followers will become confused, de-motivated, or even alienated from the leader. The objectives of whatever it is you were leading toward become cloudy, or change, and may not ever be reached.

If you are not sure you are approaching burnout because you haven’t experienced it before or don’t realize that you have, you may not recognize the symptoms. If you are currently burned out but may be trying to delude yourself, you should also pay close attention to the signs of danger. (If you are trying to deal with potential burnout with a “better living through chemistry” approach—just stop that craziness! Drugs and alcohol won’t fix the situation and will eventually destroy your leadership. Besides, they’re expensive.)

From Pink Leadership by Jeanne Gulbranson, BBD strategist, leadership expert and award-winning author. You can Pink Leadership and Jeanne’s other books on


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