Signs of Leadership Burnout & How to Deal With It

Managers define great companies. They support communication, culture, employee engagement, morale, productivity, and the future success of their teams. The backbone of any organization, good managers connect employees to leaders and are responsible for motivating everyone towards shared success. 

Managers have to carry much responsibility, from company growth and revenue to goals, team dynamics, communication, and initiatives. The constant pressure puts them at high risk for manager burnout, which is even more hazardous than employee burnout. 

What is burnout?

Burnout comes from many sources, including an overly competitive environment, increasing pressure, unrealistic expectations, and stressful personal life. This leads to a build-up of emotional, mental, and physical stress. 

Conflicting priorities, an inability to reach expected success, and repetitive frustrations lead to short tempers or physical illnesses that limit managers’ ability to do their job. Left unresolved, signs of leadership burnout can spread throughout the organization and lead to employee burnout.

Manager burnout statistics 

In a constantly changing and turbulent environment, managers are experiencing burnout more than ever:  

  • 38 percent of people often feel overwhelmed at work.
  • 64 percent of executives believe well-being is a significant challenge.
  • 60 percent of employees believe well-being and burnout initiatives are ineffective. 

Get the Top Workplaces Research Lab research on well-being & burnout

Signs of leadership burnout 

Recognizing the signs of burnout is the first step in identifying a problem and finding a solution. Here are some common symptoms of leadership burnout:  

  • Venting anger towards employees, friends, or family. 
  • Withdrawing from colleagues, teams, or company events.  
  • Refusing to share their feelings and concerns. 
  • Increased absenteeism or procrastination. 
  • Losing sight of professional development and growth. 
  • Exhibiting signs of emotional exhaustion and reduced efficiency. 

What causes burnout in managers 

Managers have different responsibilities than employees in individual contributor roles. Balancing leadership demands with team support can present a unique challenge. Other common causes include: 

  • Heavy workloads 
  • Isolation 
  • Long hours 
  • Miscommunication 
  • Stress 
  • Uncertainty 
  • Lack of recognition 
  • Unhelpful performance reviews from their managers 

When looking for troubling symptoms, watch for those related to middle manager burnout, new manager burnout, and remote manager burnout.   

The impact of manager burnout on an organization 

Managers suffering from burnout is one of the top reasons why employees quit. Managers are responsible for leading an organization’s day-to-day activities, so burnout significantly impacts:   

  • Decision making 
  • Customer service 
  • Innovation 
  • Productivity and performance 
  • Employee retention 
  • Employee burnout 
  • Hiring 
  • Training and development 
  • Culture 

How to reduce manager burnout 

Luckily, there are effective solutions for reducing and preventing manager burnout. The first step is connection. Just as managers are expected to do with employees, leaders should encourage open communication with their managers. Knowing what matters most enables leaders to find ways to reduce and minimize manager burnout. Some ideas include: 

  • Amplified recognition for performance
  • Coaching advice based on their own career experience 
  • Efficiency tools and technology  
  • Training and development programs  
  • Recurring 1:1 meetings  
  • Distribution of work 

Preventing burnout is the best solution 

In an ideal world, burnout prevention is the best solution. Great workplaces understand that preventing burnout yields the best results and improving well-being is the best way to avoid burnout. 

Improving employee and manager well-being means helping them find balance in their personal and professional lives. Implementing new programs that offer additional time off, child support, flexible working hours, or project re-delegation will prevent burnout and ensure employees have more time to focus on their work. 

Benefits of focusing on employee well-being and mental health 

Focusing on employee well-being and mental health has many benefits. And in today’s competitive market, job seekers are looking for evidence that shows it’s a priority within your workplace culture.  

For well-being initiatives to be effective, they must be genuine and address what matters most to employees. Done right, companies that are successful at preventing burnout in the workplace can:

Other benefits include better customer service, productivity, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. 

Learn more: Maintaining Company Culture in Times of Uncertainty

Utilize employee engagement surveys to get a pulse on your staff 

Do you know the possible causes of employee and manager burnout at your organization? The Workplace Survey is a great first step. It’s the same employee engagement survey that determines the nation’s Top Workplaces measures where your company excels — and where it may be vulnerable to burnout. 

Top Workplaces use this as their starting point, and the companies that excel at well-being get celebrated for their efforts. 

See the Top Workplaces for Employee Well-Being awards.


If your company is proud of its employee well-being initiatives, get recognized for it! Nominate your organization for Top Workplaces, the employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.        


Get Recognized as a Top Workplace!

Enter your email address to nominate your organization.