A previous post considered ways in which leaders can manage to reduce the potential for burnout among their employees. One additional strategy to add to that list is looking after oneself.
The data show that a good predictor of burnout among team members is the burnout level of the leader. Leader and member burnout tend to rise and fall together. So, looking after oneself could be an effective strategy for preventing burnout within a workgroup.
This approach requires some thoughtful consideration.
One reason that leaders and team members have similar levels of burnout is that they share a lot of their work experience. They are in the same setting, encountering the same group culture of civility or incivility, and addressing the same demands. Leaders have a distinct involvement in the team’s workflow, but much is shared despite these distinctions.
So, if the team is confronting excessive workload, a team leader will not help the team by neglecting some tasks, relegating them to the team. That may grant some relief to the leader but will worsen things for the team (which in turn will create more work for the leader). If the team is confronting a major value conflict, such as efficiency v service quality, the leader will not help by ignoring these conflicts: leaders have a clear role in addressing such challenges.
What To Do
The central point is that the whole team will benefit from the leader working actively with team members to implement burnout prevention strategies. This is not something that a leader does selflessly for the team members, but a way of realigning the team, including the leader, to have a more sustainable worklife. Attending to one another, eliminating low value activities, and keeping values alive are equally relevant for leaders as well as team members.
These strategies are not the whole story, but they are a good start towards a more resilient workgroup.