How Are You Protecting Your High Performers from Burnout?

By Matt Plummer

A little over a year ago, a high-performing specialist at one of the largest technologies companies — we’ll call him Santiago — was given an opportunity no high performer could turn down: an opportunity to play a manager role on a project he really cared about. The director told him, “You care about this; you lead it.” So he did, and all seemed to be going well — even though he was planning a significant company-wide event at the same time, a role he had volunteered for.

“We had a really important conference call I had spent a lot of time preparing for. The call went well, but when I finished the call, I realized I was feeling really sick,” Santiago recounts. “It got worse after that. I went to the doctor later that day, and he told me I had pneumonia. I ended up in the ER the next morning and couldn’t work for the full next week. It was a shocking moment for me. I’m young and healthy, but I realized that if I push myself, I will burn out.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t an unusual experience for high performers: A five-year study in the UK found that the mental health of 20% of the top-performing leaders of UK businesses is affected by corporate burnout.

It’s easy to blame burnout on the high performers themselves. After all, the stereotype is that these overachievers say yes to more work even when they’re already at capacity. They routinely put work first, canceling personal engagements to finish the job.

Continue reading

The Technologies Senior Leaders Plan to Deploy in the Coming Years

by Andrew Shipilov

Cloud computing is expected to take a back seat to AI, big data analytics and blockchain.

Despite all the hype, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, blockchain and 3D printing have had a small impact on businesses in the last few years. Big data analytics has had the biggest impact, according to a survey I conducted with my colleague Nathan Furr of 317 INSEAD MBA alumni and participants in our Executive Education programmes. Our respondents were mostly senior executives and around 50 percent of them worked in large companies.

Big data analytics, cloud and machine learning have all had a significant impact on business in the past two years. Big data analytics seems to have changed almost all business areas (creation of new revenues, core business protection, improvements in operational efficiency, new customer acquisition, increased retention and loyalty of existing customers). Cloud computing primarily helped improve operational efficiency.

Continue reading

How humility keeps your ego from hijacking your leadership and team success

By Angela Kambouris

Ego is one of the biggest problems that humanity faces. Being egoless is not possible; however, you can keep yours in check to create business success.

When you are over-invested with your own self-worth, ego is running the show. Each person has beliefs and fears about their value, and when under stress, defensive or over-inflated behaviors play out. When on stage, leading an executive meeting or being a part of a mentorship relationship, your attention can be preoccupied by your view of yourself.

Each person has a set of criteria you unconsciously judge yourself against. When you measure up, you feel pride and like a leader. When you don’t, feelings of uncomfortableness, pressure or fear come out to play. Fight-flight behaviors are triggered, and reactionary behaviors will often result in misalignment of the true leader you are. Unhealthy dynamics take over your own leadership and team success.

Gargantuan egos still may create leaders who achieve phenomenal and impactful success. Kayne West holds a strong ego and has talent, strength and vision. Ego may be the driver to create success, but look at the costs. You see it being played out across the media — dysfunctional personal lives, infighting in organizations and careers blowing up at some point. Continue reading

Andrés Iniesta’s Farewell, and How to Make Endings Count at Work

The face of leadership – and how your team might be reading into it

 By Shannon Waller

Even a strong, skilled leader can send their team into a tailspin of self-doubt — and at worst, fear — just by being unaware of the emotion or lack of it writ large on their face. In the same way, a naturally serious or flat demeanor can wreak havoc on people’s sense of safety and confidence.

A team member can immediately go into panicked guessing mode. “What could be wrong? Did I say something I shouldn’t have? Is something bad happening to the company? What’s going on here? Yikes!”

The Worst-Case Scenario

Have you ever walked out of your office after a particularly troubling conversation with a client, still replaying the conversation in your head and not been aware of anyone around you? You pass one of your team members in the hallway and don’t even hear their cheery “Good morning!” You almost run into another colleague and barely utter an apology.

Because this is not how you usually treat people, and your team members don’t have any context to understand the serious and distracted look on your face, not to mention why you’re actually ignoring them, they immediately think that something is wrong and that it’s going to affect them. Continue reading