Before an individual becomes an Exhausted Hero, they’re usually someone who’s excelled as a rock star. Their supervisor notices and gives them more responsibility. Then, at some point, as the responsibilities add up their team grows, and their personal growth stalls—due to lack of support or direction from leadership, lack of understanding on how to develop on their part, or both—and they’re unable to move on from being just a rock star. They’ll continue to do double-duty as manager and rock star, but it’s a struggle. And the struggle will continue. If they don’t develop into a strategic manager, then they risk burnout by functioning both as a rock star and as a manager.
We all know this individual. We may be an individual like this, struggling to balance it all. Always playing firefighter and never feeling like they have control of their work, this leader feels the pressure to be strategic, while feeling the pressure to deliver results, while feeling the guilt of the responsibility of being a people manager.
Symptoms include being the first person to work and the last one to leave. Gaining recognition for getting things accomplished—then rewarded with more projects. Running from meeting to meeting and never feeling like they are accomplishing anything. When they are in their office, they are quickly trying to manage their emails while dodging their employees who often stop by with questions. The reason they come in early and leave late is that is the only time they are not bothered and can get their work done. And they are the individuals that senior leaders trust with all the big projects so their workload continues to be over capacity. These individuals feel stuck and don’t feel there is a choice of another way…but there is another way.
If you are an Exhausted Hero, it isn’t too late. Hire an executive coach to assist you in improving key leadership behaviors like creating a vision, influencing change, or coaching. Or work with an executive coach to learn more ways to delegate effectively. Or if you are part of an organization that has an exhausted culture involving countless Exhausted Heros, let me know! I would love to come facilitate a workshop to assist in elevating the culture.