Better Leaders Prevent Burnout Across an Organization
Although the worldwide economy has shown recent signs of slowing down, unemployment rates remain low. In the course of human history, this might be the best moment to be an employee, argues Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, the chief talent strategist at ManpowerGroup. Overall, wages and conditions have improved, as have benefits.
Yet, employee burnout remains a significant problem, according to Chamorro-Premuzic, costing the U.S. economy alone $300 billion due to “absenteeism, diminished productivity, and legal and medical fees.” The culprit, he suggests, is poor-performing leadership staff.
“In theory, leaders should be shielding their followers and subordinates from stress,” he writes in Harvard Business Review. “In reality, however, leaders are more likely to cause stress than to reduce it. … At times, it’s their sheer incompetence that demotivates, demoralizes, and stresses out their teams.”
Chamorro-Premuzic, who also is a professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University, shares four tips worth consideration regarding organizational leadership:
- Selection can be more important than development.
“Organizations should spend more time scrutinizing candidates who apply for leadership roles,” he writes. “Do they have the right expertise? Are they curious, smart, and fast learners? Above all, do they have EQ, empathy, and integrity? Using science-based assessments to measure these traits will help companies avoid future leadership problems.”
- Removing toxic leadership is paramount.
“As a recent Harvard Business School study shows, it is about twice as profitable for organizations to eliminate parasitic, toxic leaders than to hire top performing ones,” Chamorro-Premuzic shares. “Toxicity spreads faster and wider than good behavior, and when bad behavior comes from the very top, it can pollute the company culture like a virus.”
- Resilient employees sometimes cover for bad leadership.
“Incompetent leaders can hide their incompetence by hiring resilient employees with high levels of emotional intelligence, as they will show up as 'engaged' in employee engagement surveys even when they are poorly managed or unfairly treated,” he writes.
- Err on the side of boring.
“Uncertainty is one of the most common drivers of stress,” Chamorro-Premuzic writes. “This also applies to leaders, which is why boring managers will be far less likely to stress out their teams and subordinates than managers who are flamboyant, eccentric, or charismatic—especially if they are explosive and unpredictable.”
About the author(s)
Bryan Wawzenek is a content creator at CASE