Leaders tanks are empty and a stress workshop is not the answer

New research from Deloitte Insights gives us reason to be concerned about well-being at an employee, leadership and organizational level.

Most alarming is that leaders are blissfully unaware of the low levels of well-being in their teams. They also seem to be doing very little about their own rising stress and burnout.

According to the research, members of the C-Suite in particular have very concerning levels of stress and fatigue. Forty-one percent are stressed, 40% are overwhelmed, 36% are exhausted, 30% are lonely and 26% are depressed. Employees however are 5% less overwhelmed, 6% less lonely and 3% less depressed.

This means, in many organizations C-Suite executives are experiencing lower well-being than the people they lead.

The result – not only is it impossible for an exhausted leader to make sound strategic decisions but nor can this leader actually show up for people.

I am deeply concerned by this, particularly because only when leaders take care of themselves, can they care for their employees. A leader with an empty tank cannot be empathetic or inspiring.

And they certainly can’t role modelling wellbeing when they’re running on empty. The only we are going to change the always-on mindset and create a burnout-free future generation is by changing culture. And we can’t have a conversation about changing culture without looking at leadership practices around what wellbeing looks like.

Another alarming piece of the research is that more than 8 out of 10 global executives believe their people are thriving in all aspects of their well-being. Yet, employees rank their well-being significantly lower.

Clearly, senior leaders are not only struggling themselves but they’re out of touch with their people’s wellbeing levels. They seem out of touch in more ways than one.

The research shows that leaders would welcome support in this area. They said the number one tool that would them is a training program focused on all matters of health.

I am still astounded by how many companies have a flurry of wellness initiatives, yet the leadership group remains ignored, or at best, leaders get a stress workshop or mindfulness training. These are great gestures but they don’t look at what’s driving leaders to the point of empty.

I think we’ve hit a crisis-point. This conversation is no longer a fluffy one. Leadership wellbeing needs to be elevated in any company that wants to remain relevant.