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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - What 200 of the world’s top leaders can tell us about burnout

Tech and Innovation

What 200 of the world’s top leaders can tell us about burnout

Melo Calarco

According to the 2022 ELMO Employee Sentiment Index, 46 per cent of Australians are feeling burnt out and a global 2022 poll from Microsoft found 48 per cent of employees and 53 per cent of managers globally reported feeling burned out at work. It is a growing problem that has been naturally rising in incidences over the last decade and partly exacerbated by the recent pandemic. 

Statistics aside, we don’t need to look too far to find many of our peers are showing signs of fatigue, exhaustion, energy depletion, lack of motivation, disengagement and anxiety, and you may be experiencing some of these feelings yourself. But it doesn’t have to be this way and burnout can be prevented with a few simple strategies. 

During interviews with 200 high-performers across diverse industries, I discovered many common themes among the leaders in strategies to help prevent burnout. I have distilled it down to the top three to be a high performer and consistently be at the top of your game every day (without burning out) and the three main factors to consider are: 1) self-awareness, 2) the ability to self-regulate and 3) ongoing self-care practices. 

Melo Calarco

  1. The Self-Aware Leader
    “You can’t change what you don’t notice”, Scott Chapman, CEO of Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), Victoria, says that there are only two things that drive change in your life: one is through making a choice, and the other is through crisis—and unfortunately most people wait until the latter, as is the case with burnout. As a leader, the very first step to preventing burnout is to build your self-awareness as it underpins everything you do, from managing your own energy, your behaviours, the way you operate, and being aware of the choices you make. With deep self-awareness you are able to adapt to different situations, manage your stress levels and take measures to ‘nip stress in the bud’ before it progresses to burnout.
  2. The Ability to Self- Regulate
    The next step after self-awareness is developing the ability to self-regulate during challenging and stressful times. There are many challenges that leaders face daily which trigger the stress response (fight and flight) which can be harmful over the long term when not managed properly. Techniques such as deep breathing and other mindfulness practices can be very powerful to help with self-regulation. I teach a 90 second breathing technique which is very effective in managing stress, anxiety, and overwhelm to many of my clients, including Dr. Chrys Hensman, Associate Professor and Cardiovascular Surgeon who thanks me endlessly for it and says it’s a game changer in terms of self-regulating during busy, stressful periods. 
  3. Consistent Self-Care Essentials
    John Rowland, Senior Vice President of CGI, UK North and Australia, with over 84,000 employees globally, explained to me simply that “You cannot be performing at your best if you are not at your best health wise”. To stay focused and energised while working across multiple time zones, John says, the first thing he keeps check on is his basic self-care practices, making sure he is exercising regularly, eating well and sleeping well no matter how busy he gets. When these things are in check you can have better problem-solving capacity, make better decisions, and able to manage the daily challenges with more clarity and focus.

Leaders know very well the measures they need to put in place to prevent burnout and perform at their best on a daily basis. However, it is one thing to ‘know it’ but it is another thing to actually ‘do it’. With deep self-awareness, the ability to self- regulate and consistent self-care practices anything is possible, and you can continue to be a peak performer without the risk of burning out.


Written by Melo Calarco.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - What 200 of the world’s top leaders can tell us about burnout
Melo Calarco
Melo Calarco, author of Beating Burnout-Finding Balance (Wiley $29.99), is a mindfulness and high-performance expert, keynote speaker and corporate programs facilitator. His work has helped many CEO’s, leaders, corporate executives, surgeons and other medical professionals, elite athletes and other high performers to build resilience and perform at their absolute best, without burning out. He has trekked and cycled around the world on his mountain bike and shares this experience in his work which has been described as truly transformational!


Melo Calarco is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.