Business coaching can help organizations defeat workforce burnout by giving managers the skills to demonstrate the behaviors that can prevent and reduce employee burnout. Mangers are in the best position to connect with employees, give them solutions for their work-life problems, and show the behaviors that limit burnout.

Over the last few years, the world has been stumbling from one negative “historic event” to another. A global pandemic, war, and various other crises have strained relationships and stressed workforces to the point of burnout.

Intelligent leadership seeks to ensure the wellbeing and happiness of the workforce. It promotes engagement, productivity, and better employee retention. As part of its mission, it must address workforce burnout.

How can leadership coaching and business coaching help to address this prevalent yet subtle phenomenon that stealthily sabotages so many organizations?

Intelligent leadership is instrumental in defeating burnout.  

The Key Factor in Defeating Burnout

In most organizations, managers represent an underused and underestimated resource. Yet, with a problem like burnout, managers hold the potential solution.

Business coaching teaches leaders how to structure, organize, and develop their organizations. While leadership coaching focuses on effecting change through the individual, business coaching takes a broader approach, covering practical aspects of business development, including employee management.

As the gatekeepers of employee wellbeing, managers have to demonstrate a set of well-defined behaviors to prevent and combat burnout. Senior leadership can implement programs and policies to facilitate employee happiness, but it is up to the managers to apply these policies effectively. The managerial behaviors that can directly impact employee burnout are:

  • The willingness to connect
  • Being available and capable of delivering answers
  • Embracing change and flexibly rethinking processes
  • Modeling behaviors that prevent and minimize burnout

Business coaching helps organizations hire and develop managers capable of demonstrating these behaviors.

As the direct link between senior leaders and employees, managers have to proactively and consistently connect with the workforce. For a manager, effectively connecting with employees is a two-step process.

  • Creating an atmosphere of trust and psychological safety conducive to open and sincere dialogue
  • Openly talking about employees’ work-life balance

Having uncovered the root of the problem, managers have to step up and take action. They need to find solutions for the work-life conflicts of employees under their management.

In my leadership coaching books and blog posts, I have often extolled the role of flexibility in intelligent leadership. Effective solutions often require the rethinking of existing processes and work structures. Managers and organizations have to be flexible in this respect.

Managers can lead by example by modeling work-life balancing behaviors, providing practical demonstrations of how their burnt-out reports can address their problems.

Accounting for the Resilience of the Workforce

Resilience is a desirable leadership and employee trait. Resilient workers can handle more adversity without burning out. A resilient workforce can help managers and leaders cover their incompetence in preventing and addressing burnout.

Resilience is desirable, but it may skew information about engagement.

An overly resilient workforce can make it more difficult for leaders to recognize the problems with their managers and junior leaders. Hiring practices that focus on resilience create a workforce that provides skewed feedback about engagement and burnout. And skewed feedback may result in bad leadership practices that undermine productivity over time.

Weeding Out Toxic Leaders

Toxic workers and leaders exert a disproportionate amount of bad influence on the workforce. It makes more sense to get rid of such elements than to seek to hire superstar talent.

Executive coaching preaches the importance of uncovering leaders’ strengths and weaknesses. HR specialists often focus on the strengths of potential hires, ignoring their flaws.

Intelligent organizations recognize the benefits of well-behaved talent. Slightly above-average talent trumps misbehaved, toxic superstars.

The Flexibility-based Approach

Executive coaching can help company leaders combat burnout on the organizational level. Senior leaders can show flexibility by:

  • Adjusting their expectations based on the circumstances
  • Granting more autonomy and delegating more
  • Using their available communication bandwidth more efficiently

Reducing employee burnout and turnover is a challenge every competitive organization needs to address. In the age of the Great Resignation, companies find it more difficult than ever to recruit capable talent. Low turnover saves money and sets up the organization to succeed in the future.


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