What is burnout?



Burnout is the feeling of depletion, cynicism, and emotional distance that results from a lack of impact or autonomy at work. Odds are you’ve experienced the feeling at some time or other. Tired from the moment you wake up in the morning. Staring at your computer for hours without accomplishing anything. Finally logging off and leaving your workspace to find a whole other set of taxing jobs to do in the rest of your home—and life. And maybe even being impatient, withdrawn, or irritable with the ones you care about most. These feelings could be the result of burnout.

One explanation for burnout is that it is an occupational phenomenon that builds up over time, brought on by a chronic imbalance between job demands and available resources. Basically, that means too many things to do and not enough tools, time, or energy to do them. And “too many things” doesn’t have to mean a thousand: if the one thing you’re trying to do isn’t getting done, for whatever reason, that can easily cause the alienating feelings associated with burnout. And these feelings are quite different from simply feeling a bit tired or looking forward to a break.

If that sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. Between February and April 2022, McKinsey conducted a global survey of nearly 15,000 employees and 1,000 HR decision makers in 15 countries. On average, one in four employees surveyed across various demographics and all over the world reported experiencing symptoms of burnout, per the Burnout Assessment Tool.

Burnout can have a major impact on a person’s well-being. It is typified by four core symptoms: exhaustion, mental distancing, cognitive impairment, and emotional impairment. But the problems don’t usually stop there: burnout is also associated with negative brain health symptoms such as anxiety or depression—which in turn can be associated with more severe mental health conditions.

Many companies worldwide are investing more in the mental health and well-being of their employees with benefits such as yoga classes or subscriptions to mental health apps. But as an employer, these efforts alone won’t create conditions for holistic employee health. McKinsey research suggests that there are concrete steps employers can take to improve the situation.  Continue reading

3 ways our brains undermine our ability to be a good leader





by Cian McEnroe and David Rock



Robin, a perennial high achiever, has just been promoted to her first leadership position. But her first few months on the job have been tougher than expected: Her colleagues don’t joke around with her anymore, she’s pulled in different directions, and she’s constantly putting out fires. When one of her top performers suddenly leaves for another opportunity, Robin realizes her team is under-resourced. The pressure takes its toll, and Robin begins to dread Monday mornings. Maybe she just wasn’t cut out to be a leader?

Robin’s story is a familiar one. Sixty percent of new managers fail within the first 24 months. And this isn’t just an issue for new managers: 50% to 70% of new executives fail in the first 18 months, too.

To be successful, our research at the Neuroleadership Institute has found we must excel across three core domains of great leadership: being future-focused, being good with people, and being able to drive results. And yet, as we develop as leaders, our brains evolve in ways that challenge our ability to excel in these areas. We analyzed dozens of leadership development programs used by larger organizations and discovered they often fail to equip leaders across all three domains. The good news is that we can be taught to combat these tendencies once we understand why our brains fight us.

Focus on the Future
Rather than just doing the work of today, leaders must constantly scan for what’s next and make sure their teams are prepared. This is at odds with how our brains evolved to value the immediate and short-term future. Indeed, in one study, 27% of Americans say they rarely or never think about what might happen five years into the future. That’s a concern because anticipating things like industry trends, future skills requirements, and customer needs is central to a leader’s success. Continue reading

Building a Culture Where Employees Feel Free to Speak Up




by Timothy R. Clark


I recently attended an all-hands meeting for a large corporation. The CEO took the stage and began discussing a fresh batch of employee survey data, focusing on the results of one specific survey item: “I feel safe to speak up at work.” More than half of the employees who completed the survey disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, indicating a culture of pervasive fear.

But that’s not the interesting part. With a distinctly scripted flavor, the CEO then proceeded to say: “It’s very clear that we need to create a speak-up culture. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do. In fact, we’re going to do it right now. Our speak-up culture begins today. We need your voice. We need your opinions. We need your honest feedback.”

I nearly fell off my chair. A leader who approaches an organization this way is either culturally out of touch or managing optics. You can’t speak a speak-up culture into existence. Rhetorical reassurance in the absence of true psychological safety is an abdication of leadership and an admission of failure.

Speaking Up Is Highly Vulnerable Behavior

Let’s put speaking up into perspective. For the average employee, speaking up is risky business because it introduces maximum personal risk. According to our global survey research, which now includes nearly 50,000 data points across 834 organizations, speaking up lives at the intersection of the top six most vulnerable behaviors from the 20 behaviors we measure in our Ladder of Vulnerability survey.

Here are those six behaviors, ranked from most vulnerable to less-vulnerable:

  1. Giving an incorrect answer
  2. Making a mistake
  3. Expressing your emotions
  4. Expressing disagreement
  5. Pointing out a mistake
  6. Challenging the way things are done

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Strategies to Enhance Your Negotiation Skills






Negotiation skills play a crucial role in professional sales. Expertise in negotiation is a skilled practice. While some individuals are naturally strong negotiators, the best ones learn and work hard to strengthen their knowledge and learn new techniques– and they continually practice perfecting their approach.

Every negotiation conversation is different and requires far more than just product knowledge or technical knowledge of what you’re negotiating about. Each negotiation requires interpersonal skills that let you connect with who you are talking to, build rapport, and communicate in a way to engage and proactively move the conversation forward in a mutually beneficial way.

Everyone has internal motivators and drivers they will respond to in a conversation – or will shut down if those motivators are not there. Strong negotiators listen and pay attention to cues from the other person regarding what resonates for them during the conversation. When they can see and understand those, they can use words that resonate with the other person and bring elements into the conversation they know the other individual will respond to.

People want to be heard and listened to, and, when they feel that, you build rapport and relationships that support more productive conversations and collaborative outcomes for both parties.

Mistakes to Avoid

During negotiations, people often make three common mistakes that hinder their success.

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Building Trust from the Start: Why First Impressions Matter






“First impressions are formed in the blink of an eye, but their impact lasts a lifetime” is an expression I repeated to myself before meeting potential clients for the first time. The science behind this mantra suggests people form an opinion in seconds. Some studies have shown that people form initial judgments about others within milliseconds of meeting them. These opinions can impact sales success and career growth. This article explores how sales professionals can make their best first impression when meeting new prospects for the first time.

Every salesperson knows the importance of making a good early impression. However, it is all too common that, despite this awareness, buyers are often left with a negative impression after the initial meeting with a seller. This begs the question: How does this disconnect occur when sellers understand that their success hinges on the opinion of the buyers they are working with?

The answer lies in the fundamental dynamics of human psychology. As social beings, we are hard-wired to judge others rapidly based on limited information. Our brains automatically seek cues to assess trustworthiness, competence, and likability. These instinctive evaluations guide our subsequent interactions and influence our decisions.

For salespeople, understanding first impressions is not just a matter of intuition but a strategic imperative. A positive initial impression helps foster trust, instill confidence, and create an environment conducive to open dialogue. On the other hand, a poor first impression can create barriers, raise doubts, and hinder communication and the sales process.

Start with Low Ego

Have you ever observed a new salesperson who appears nervous and cautious at the beginning of their sales career, carefully choosing every word and action? They diligently follow the sales training and coaching they received and experience early sales success. They might even set a new sales record, and their potential seems unlimited. However, after this initial peak, they seem to reach a plateau and never manage to achieve the early high-performance results again.

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