As many CEOs quit amid mental health crisis, 3 leaders cry for new playbook

As many CEOs quit amid mental health crisis, 3 leaders cry for new playbook

More than four million American workers have quit their jobs every month so far this year. And according to McKinsey and Company’s survey of 13,000 people worldwide (including 6,294 Americans), about 40% of workers plan to leave their current jobs in the next three to six months. And 70% of the C-suite with the weight of the world – or at least the business – on their shoulders are considering jumping ship in search of a role that supports their well-being.

Poor CEO, mental health is skyrocketing

“But why are the seams bursting now? Why not two years ago? asks Bryan Adams, CEO and founder of Ph.Creative. “In times of crisis, most CEOs muster all their energy to keep teams aligned and focused on a common vision for the business,” he told me. The old work rules told us that to get ahead, we had to outperform and outperform the person next to us. Poor mental health in leaders has been normalized for far too long, Adams says, as CEOs are expected to put professional challenges ahead of their own personal care, and many leaders feel like they’re fighting an uphill battle that can only end. by a failure.

“In times of chaos, there’s an unofficial playbook for businesses that dictates what to prioritize, how to communicate, who to hire, who to fire, when to reassure, and how to explain the situation to others,” Adams said. “Crisis situations create massive amounts of stress and high levels of pressure. These situations can also double an already exhausting workload by adding crisis management to the demands of a day job. When you stretch these circumstances over a two-year period, many leaders find that navigating professional integrity, health, and well-being becomes unsustainable and extremely dangerous. Before 2020, there was a playbook you could follow. Now leaders are scrambling, trying to pick up the pieces as more social and economic change continues to happen every day.

Adams draws the analogy of playing a board game where the design of the board keeps changing every few minutes. Then, he says, imagine everyone else in the game asking you to explain the new board and help them navigate their way, even though it’s clear you can barely understand the evolution yourself. of the landscape. “To make matters worse, there is an old rulebook that no longer matches the board,” he adds, “However, you are expected to stick to these rules despite their seemingly restrictive and even contradictory.With the new layout, these rules actually prevent you from doing well by yourself and the players around you.

A CEO’s Mental Health Struggles

As leaders grapple with the impact of retention issues, inflation, an economic recession, and “silent quitting,” the challenges at work are daunting. These factors lead to unmanageable levels of stress and anxiety. No wonder more than half of CEOs cite mental health issues. Due to his own mental health issues, Chris Federspiel, CEO and Founder of, is passionate about raising C-level mental health awareness. Chris believes that many CEOs suffer from what he calls ego exhaustion— massively overinvesting in the company to the detriment of themselves. “When CEOs or founders get sick, exhausted or tired, overeat, or depend on alcohol, cigarettes, or other viruses, it often stems from the concept of ego burnout,” he said. he declared and shared with me the story of his own work problems:

“As a founder, I used to get sick for two weeks from stress, dealing with cold-like symptoms that wouldn’t go away. I was better for another two weeks, then the symptoms returned. But these problems did not only manifest physically. I was overwhelmed and I took my frustrations out on my employees, causing tension and abrupt decision-making that hurt company morale. Through therapy for my bipolar disorder and parental abuse, I learned that I suffered from ego burnout, which most often occurs from over-commitment in professional and personal life, neglecting myself . Many CEOs and founders struggle with the same problem with effects ranging from illness and exhaustion to overeating and addiction to alcohol or drugs. I would over-commit because I would feel like we weren’t doing enough, so I would ask each person to do more even with a full roster of work. I started solo projects working nights and weekends. I thought I could expand my capacity without limits, which resulted in products being launched without enough testing, superficial work efforts (work passed to employees without enough context and half-baked instructions given to customers), and a rate of high cash burn. This, in turn, increased my stress, making me sick, anxious, angry and angry.

The CEO rewrites the playbook for the tough times

The old mentality of “working to death” at the expense of your sanity is changing. CEOs do their best when redefining their mental and physical well-being, to avoid burnout and to work with purpose. “The human tendency is to let fear — or any short-term pain the decision will inevitably bring — keep you from moving forward,” CEO Simon Berg told me. “No matter who or what you lead, you will be constantly bombarded with challenges and choices you have to make,” he said. “You’ll wonder if you’re able to tackle these challenges successfully and if you have the know-how to make executive decisions. When you delve deeper into it, what courage really is is the ability to overcome fear, and having courage is a key part of the CEO who must push forward regardless.

So how can CEOs turn fear and doubt into courage and change the old playbook? Berg offers these three tips for CEOs and entrepreneurs:

  1. Acknowledge your fear. Fear is normal, not a singular experience.
  2. Outsource it. Share your feelings of fear and doubt transparently with people you trust.
  3. Keep moving. Find something small to focus on, instead of tackling the big things all at once.

To do that, Adams believes leaders need to move from “mental health” to “mental fitness” and have more open conversations about wellness when writing the new playbook. “Organizations as a whole should actively change the narrative to be inclusive and welcoming of wellness initiatives to help employees deal with stress and then thrive,” he says.

Federspiel agrees, refusing to sacrifice self-care so as not to give up in the face of high stress. “Exercising regularly, eating healthy and getting enough sleep are key,” he notes. “But it’s equally important to set limits such as scheduling Slacks and emails to be sent during working hours, taking a full week off, and implementing our four-day work week. .”

He insists these changes have created mental space for clearer thinking, so he can focus on the company’s long-term vision in a way he couldn’t when he was. always on high alert. “I’m a better CEO because I’m a healthier person, physically and mentally,” he said, adding, “I often tell our team, ‘We don’t resurrect hearts by hand. We can take time – very few things are urgent. I don’t want to run our business the way Elon Musk runs his. Our pace of innovation isn’t as fast, conversely, but rather it helps focus on managing ego burnout and increasing employee morale.

Adams agrees that new requirements and new questions require new playbooks. “Organizations must also find new answers to old questions while building a cohesive path to normalcy,” he concluded. “So many leaders have found themselves stuck in an impossible situation. Leaders begin to write a new playbook to navigate the tough times. From a survival mode perspective, the new playbook should focus on wellness, even considering it a basic hygiene factor. Before, wellness was nice to have. Today, it’s an essential coping tool for staying sane, fit and alive.

#CEOs #quit #mental #health #crisis #leaders #cry #playbook

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *