7 Important Reasons Leaders Crash and Burn
Whether you’re in a formal leadership role or not, if people are relying on you and you are responsible for their success, you’re serving as a leader—and that means experiencing all the highs and lows of leadership.
Generally, leaders want to do their best and maintain high standards of excellence. They push themselves for the benefit of their team and put their own interests at the bottom of the list.
Those attitudes are part of what makes people leaders, but it also puts them at higher than average risk of burnout. Here are seven serious ways leaders set themselves up to crash and burn:
Focusing on being liked. A need to be liked makes leadership a struggle. The best leaders understand that being liked is a side effect, not a goal. If they’re invested in their people and in helping them learn and grow in an atmosphere of respect and equality—as any leader should be—they will be liked. Leaders who focus on being liked, on the other hand, are constantly changing direction in hopes of earning someone’s approval. In the end, they’re not effective as leaders—and they’re actually liked less than those who have their priorities in order. Leadership is not about being liked; it’s about getting the job done while empowering those around you.
Taking on too much without delegating. If you think you’re the only one who can get the job done right, you are doing a disservice to your own leadership—and to all the people who were hired to support you in your work. When you take on too much without delegating you’ll end up feeling perpetually behind with no chance of catching up, and few situations are more exhausting. Part of your role as a leader is helping your team take on more authority to build their own leadership skills. If you don’t delegate, you’re failing your team and yourself.
Deviating from what’s important. If you’re the type of leader who says yes to everything, you’ll end up overloaded and unfocused. Learn instead to say yes only to the things that are important to your mission. Leadership is about getting things done and achieving results, so keep your focus on the things that directly or indirectly contribute to results and learn to say no to the rest.
Relying on consensus. Leaders have to be able to make decisions independently and trust their own judgment. If you find yourself often waiting for people to agree with you or second-guessing yourself, you’re adding to your stress and detracting from your leadership. Building a great team involves collaboration—one of the key elements associated with creating a dynamic corporate culture. But consensus decision making isn’t appropriate or feasible in many situations, and that’s where leadership steps up.
Getting caught up in your own importance. Even good leaders can get caught up in their own hype—which actually means they’re caught up in their own ego. When you lead from your ego you undermine your effectiveness as a leader. Stoking your own ego will never earn you anyone’s respect, and leadership should never be about pushing your own agenda, status and gratification ahead of others affected by your actions.
Failing to build trust. Earning and building trust are at the heart of leadership. If you fail to cultivate trust as a leader, communication and team effectiveness immediately suffer—and it’s hard to make up losses in those areas. Learn the problems that a lack of trust can cause in your team, and remember that resolving trust issues starts and ends with you.
Tending to fix instead of navigate. If you find yourself constantly trying to fix whatever problem is in front of you instead of navigating long-term solutions, you’re going to keep spinning your wheels. Great leaders avoid burnout by empowering others to look for solutions while the leader navigates the way with them.
In short, if you want to avoid crashing and burning, you need to reach beyond managing your role. You have to learn to manage yourself.
Lead from within: Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something you love is called passion.