3 hidden triggers of Leader fatigue

We’ve all heard of ‘burnout’ and ‘quiet quitting’ in teams.  But we rarely acknowledge that the hidden pressures of leading can cause another problem : Leader Fatigue Complex. Right now, business leaders are experiencing rising levels of weariness. Put simply, bosses and managers showing signs of fatigue than ever before. Learned helplessness is setting in and raising simple tiredness to the level of what I call Leader Fatigue Complex.

Leader Fatigue Complex is worrying. It sparks a range of problems for leaders themselves, as well as their organisations. These include:

  • Reduced decision-making capabilities, due to cognitive and behavioural exhaustion
  • Negative team impacts, including heightened levels of stress, anxiety and conflict amongst employees
  • Rising cynicism and negativity within leadership teams – which has a ripple effect downwards
  • Decreased manager performance, which in some cases is leading to significant financial losses

Yes, HR practitioners have been struggling to address these problems. Unfortunately training and teambuilding sessions haven’t shifted the trend significantly. This is because such quick fixes don’t address the three real key causes of managers’ fatigue. These are subtle and intangible, but they can have a huge impact on the health and productivity of managers, business owners and leaders.

Toxic emotion buffering

This is one of the most unseen aspects of managerial work. It involves mitigating the toxic emotions that arise in teams on a regular basis. Examples of toxic emotion buffering work include managing heated arguments between colleagues, coaching stressed or unhappy employees and responding to ‘testing behaviours’ in disgruntled teams. Doing this on a regular basis takes an emotional toll and leads to leader fatigue over the long term.

Complexity overload

This means having too much information to handle at once.  If you feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions that need to be made each day, you know all about it! Setting boundaries can help here, but many frontline managers or business owners find this difficult. As a result, they become overstretched, leading to more stress and leader fatigue in the long run.


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Leader loneliness

This happens because managers and business owners must maintain confidentiality whilst managing the demands of their roles. Juggling the people side of business with bottom line pressures can be very isolating, leading to high levels of stress and leader fatigue. Add to this reduced professional development budgets, which means less access to professional coaching, and you have the ideal conditions for a spike in leader loneliness.

The good news is there are solutions for the leader fatigue problem. If you want to reduce the toll of emotional buffering, complexity overload and leader loneliness, stay in touch. I’ll be discussing practical solutions to these issues in upcoming videos and articles.

This article was created by Eleanor Shakiba

Eleanor is a leadership trainer and success coach. Her mission is inspiring talented people to become leaders who make a difference.  Since discovering her passion for training and development, Eleanor has trained more than 60,000 people. She delivers face-to-face workshops for corporates, online masterclasses for leaders and Positive Psychology retreats for trainers, HR practitioners and leaders.