survival zone, energy is high and negative so people feel stressed, irritable,
frustrated, anxious, and impatient.
in burn-out zone there is low, negative energy and people feel exhausted,
depressed, depleted, discouraged, and hopeless.
it is difficult to go directly from burn-out or survival to performance.
Recovery is vital.
about sportspeople. In order to perform at their best they need to train,
compete, as well as rest and recover. Without ‘downtime’, they risk physical injury
and mental exhaustion. Yet, when it comes to business, and with the increasing
use of virtual technology in working from home, there is far less separation
between our professional and personal lives.
back in the 1980’s when the technological revolution was nascent, people
predicted that we would all have much more spare time. Instead, work hours extended
and, with the widespread arrival of personal computers and mobile phones, the
boundaries between work and home became increasingly blurred.
some benefits to this new way of working. Colleagues are much more accepting of
children, dogs, and cats interrupting work meetings. We are more understanding
of the challenges we all face in turning parts of our homes into working
spaces. We save time previously spent commuting to and from the office.
drawbacks include longer working hours, the absence of physical proximity and
the loss of informal, unplanned meeting opportunities by the coffee machines.
increasing numbers of executives feeling stressed or exhausted, what practical
steps can be taken?
simple actions are as follows:
- Make time during the day to switch off from all technology and,
if possible, connect with nature. Even if only for 10 to 15 minutes, this time
is crucial for the brain to reset and renew;
- Take time at the start of meetings to connect with colleagues
beyond the business. Allow a space for people to share how they are feeling
without attempting to offer solutions; and
- Reach out to colleagues and share a short message, a video
clip, or a gif to let them know you are thinking of them and to nurture trust.
way to support wellbeing is through a practice of hope.
changes to the way we work continues and people’s emotional bandwidth is
increasingly stretched, we see a difference in how hope presents itself. When
in the performance zone, there is a pervasive feeling of hope whilst when in
the burn-out zone, the feeling is one of hopelessness. Qualitative and quantitative
research indicates that, whist not important for everyone, between 87.5 and
90 per cent of executives view hope as a positive and necessary emotion.
Research also indicates that hope can be learned.
than being its opposite, hope can exist alongside despair. Defined as an
embodied energetic intent that fuels a sense of flourishing, 3 hope
is contagious and provides the energy for people to act. In acting, people then
feel an increased sense of hope and so it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.
recalling times from our past when hope was important and sharing those
stories with each other, we can support and positively impact each other’s
the words of Polish philosopher Henryk Skolimowski: “Hope is a mode of our
very being. To be alive is to live in a state of hope. Hope is a precondition
of our mental health. Hope is the scaffolding of our existence. Hope is a
reassertion of our belief in the meaning of human life, and in the sense of the
universe. Hope is the precondition of all meaning, of all strivings, of all
actions. To embrace hope is a form of wisdom; to abandon it is a form of
Recovery is vital to productivity and it is an illusion that
long hours equate to quality work. As we continue to work with a hybrid
approach and live with restrictions, taking care of our physical and mental
health has never been more necessary. By looking after the wellbeing of
ourselves and our friends and colleagues, we can nurture a powerful sense of
community that sparks hope amidst the uncertainty.
1 Research at IMD by
Professor S. Goldsworthy.
2 The Energy Project.
Accessed via, https://theenergyproject.com/about-us/tony-schwartz/
3 Doctoral research by S. Goldsworthy.
Affiliate Professor of Leadership &
Organisational Change at IMD and a former Olympic finalist, Susan is
passionate about working with people to turn knowledge into behaviour.
is co-author of three award-winning leadership books, Care to Dare,
Choosing Change, and the recently released Where the Wild Things Were, for
people of all ages to raise awareness of biodiversity loss and the need to
protect what we still can in our magical, more-than-human world.