Five Tips to Help Leaders Avoid Burnout

December 23, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​In light of recent reports noting that physician burnout has reached epidemic levels (see the November 23, 2016,Physician Practice E-News), organizations may be interested in a November 23, 2016, article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). One of the article's authors also conducted a recent study surveying 35 chief medical officers (CMOs) at 35 large healthcare facilities regarding their stress levels and what they do to avoid burnout. A majority (69%) of the CMOs described their current stress levels as either severe, very severe, or "worst possible," and yet most were not burnt out, when assessed using the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The key to not allowing stress to turn into burnout, the HBR authors found, is "tapping into your emotional intelligence." Some components of emotional intelligence include emotional self-awareness, which allows one to understand the source of frustration or anxiety, and self-management, which allows one to stay calm and control impulses when faced with difficult tasks. Conflict management skills, another key to emotional intelligence, allow one to channel stress into problem-solving mode. Empathy is another way to fight stress. "When we actively try to understand others," the article said, "we often begin to care about them." Showing compassion and attuning to other people's perspectives and attitudes can also help deal with stress before it spirals into burnout. Based on responses to the study, the authors offered five tips for managing stress to avoid burnout.

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