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How to Fight Leadership Fatigue

Best of ICMI in 2022 - #8: worried

Leading others is hard work.

A lot of us got into a leadership position with very little training. On the job, we actively sought knowledge to improve and become successful in our roles. This leadership development is continuous; it can never be finished because the world is ever evolving, and leadership must develop in tandem. Leaders do not exist without followers, and followers are always changing. Furthermore, great leadership requires a wide range of skills in addition to strong core business knowledge.

Constantly improving competence in the required skills, persistently investing in your team members’ growth, and driving the strategic initiatives required to meet business objectives can become overwhelming at any point in time.

So how do we fight leadership fatigue? Let’s define it first.

What is leadership fatigue?

We can simply define leadership fatigue as when you’re struggling to stay motivated, passionate, or energetic and/or are finding it difficult to motivate, guide, and/or encourage your team members.

Here are some signs:

  • Deterioration in the basics – for instance, you leave emails and messages unread/unanswered
  • Increase in procrastination – getting started on your tasks seems extremely tough
  • Feeling like you are in survival mode – you don’t have mid-term or long-term plans; you just get through the day
  • Distancing yourself from trusted advisors to avoid their concern or feedback
  • Crippling lack of confidence in yourself
  • Reduction in empathy – you stop checking in on employees

When does leadership fatigue occur?

Leadership fatigue can occur when you’re juggling a lot of balls, when your efforts and strategies at work fail to produce the required result, and when you’re working late nights and weekends for an extended period, etc. It can happen at any time, and has become more prevalent since the pandemic started. According to Development Dimensions International’s Global Leadership Forecast 2021, 60% of leaders now indicate that they feel “used up” at the end of every workday, a strong indicator of burnout.

Leadership can be a lonely and isolated place. The Harvard Business Review CEO Snapshot Survey revealed rel="noopener noreferrer" that 50% of CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role, and of this group, 61% believe it hinders their performance.

How to Combat Fatigue

There is no one way to keep from burning out, but here are a few suggestions that have worked for colleagues and myself in the past:


Identify the signs and acknowledge that you’re experiencing leadership fatigue.


Refuse to think that you’re weak. Highly driven people can feel that they are weak or incompetent if they aren’t coping. You’re not weak, this is happening across the globe to many other leaders.

Reach out

Ask for help. It takes strength and courage to ask for help. When you’re empty, you cannot be an effective leader.


Take a break. Disengage completely from leading for a period. Delegate, step away.


Spend more time on the things you love. When you disengage and immerse yourself in the things that you love, you can find renewed passion and focus.


Take a stroll down memory lane and recount your previous successes and wins. This will help bolster your self-confidence.


Get back to the basics with a good diet, good sleep, and regular exercise.


Change your department; do something new that challenges you differently.

If you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone. Treat this as critical, seek help, and get the tools to win.