C-Level Executive Burnout: Something We Need to Talk About

Dawn Pascale

The need for high-functioning leaders to help healthcare organizations navigate the ever-changing landscape for the industry requires that they be at their best.  If regulatory compliance, shifting cost and care paradigms, insurance standards, employee staffing and retention isn’t enough pressure for a healthcare executive, what happened to their stress level when a little pandemic was sprinkled in? 

Not long ago, C-Level Executives were expected to suffer their job stress in silence. Today, business leaders know better but it’s still something we need to talk about openly in the board room.  Study after study has proven that stress kills.  Here are some ways to manage that stress and still perform at a peak level.

Do Your Job, Not Everyone Else’s 

If you are wearing too many hats, the only thing about your organization that’s going to grow is your stress level.  Get good at delegating.  Start trusting and relying on your team.  Your organization doesn’t need you to do everything, it just needs you to do your job at your best. 

Hire Top Performers

It’s impossible for one person to manage the stress of all those responsibilities without a strong support system around them. That starts with hiring executives and managers who can execute without your hand-holding. Lean on mentors or other executives who do your role and learn from your shared experiences.  Build a world-class team around you and energize yourself with positivity and productivity.

Get Some Sleep 

No, you cannot survive on power naps. Regardless of your fitness level, try and get a minimum of 6-7 hours of sleep each night. Without that recharge, you’re going to short circuit at the worst possible time.  To get the best night’s sleep, set the stage. First, shut off all electronics 1 hour before bedtime.  Blue light from your cell phone, laptop, and tablets will disrupt sleep patterns.  Keep your room dark and the temp around 68 degrees which is conducive to getting into REM.  Finally, practice mindfulness right before bed to quiet your mind from the tasks of tomorrow. 

Eat Right

Maybe you woofed down a decent breakfast, had a salad with some protein for lunch and a sensible dinner…but that was one day last week.   Check yourself on what you are eating and do so on a daily basis.  It’s OK to skip lunch every once in a while but you need a healthy eating routine to keep your mind sharp and fatigue at bay.  Find time to prep your meals or find a restaurant that can do it for you.  

Exercise On the Daily

Set it, don’t forget it.  Schedule exercise time as if you were scheduling a meeting with your Medical Director.  It’s that important.  Exercising is no different than how you run your business.  Scheduling in exercise can be as simple as a brisk walk around the hospital for an hour each day.  Exercise is not an extravagance, it’s an essential task that will allow you to channel stress properly and clear your mind for problem-solving. 

Look for Warning Signs

The C-level executive who thinks that stress doesn’t apply to them is bad for business. Stress is a silent killer.  Applying a know-it-all attitude towards your health could be making a mistake that’s ill-fated both for you and your organization. Familiarize yourself with stress signals.  When stress manifests itself physically, an immediate time-out applies.  Getting your health in order and seeing your doctor are the only important calendar reminders. 

Spend Money Wisely

If you are a high-achieving Executive, you’ll need to figure out how to structure your life so you do the work you love and still get to spend time with the people that matter most all while maintaining a healthy and stress-less lifestyle.  Sound impossible?  It’s achievable if you spend some of your money on ways that shape the best life possible.   Can some of your income that’s sitting in the bank at less than 1% interest be invested in you?   Which will bring you a better return –  a bigger house or a personal chef to make those healthy meals?  Investing in a few Armani suits to make you feel good about yourself  or a personal trainer? Investing in diamonds to bring you more value or a business coach?  There’s no right answer for everyone but there’s a right answer for you.

Elevate Your Mind 

Anything that expands your horizons and gets you out of your corporate bubble will be good for stress management. Think retreats for the mind, body and soul, seminars and lectures on your favorite hobbies,  and massages and mindfulness therapies.  These types of experiences can get your mind firing in ways that lead to new personal and professional breakthroughs.

The old adage “Do as I say, not as I do.” does not apply here.  As part of your job as a C-level Executive, you are responsible for making sure your team manages their stress.   There needs to be a level of dedication on your part if you are spreading this message to your staff and want to see some buy-in.

At MedSource Consultants, we can not cook for you nor will we get on a treadmill for you, but we can alleviate your stress by helping you hire those top performers!