Leading With Resilience

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Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Leaders can adopt certain strategies that not only mitigate burnout among their employees but also improve their own mental well-being.
Featuring Phildra Swagger, Combined Expertise Inc.
  • By encouraging personal time away from work and professional development opportunities, leaders can help their employees manage stress in the workplace.
  • Three common barriers that affect the mental health of leaders include imposter syndrome, fear of change, and perfectionism.
  • Mental toughness requires the willingness, courage, and vulnerability to push through obstacles—and the ability to give oneself grace and flexibility.


Phildra Swagger: [0:14] Leaders have a tough job these days with higher expectations for performance and outcomes, as well as taking care of the well being of their employees. There's so much to do in being aware of burnout among their staffs.

[0:28] I think the first thing to do is really to be observant. To get to know your staff so that you can see burnout when it's approaching and then encourage staff to balance. To find time to take personal time. Yes, personal time away from work, but also time within the workday.

[0:48] Don't have lunch at your desk. [laughs] Remove yourself from screen time and take a walk across campus. Observe the students, chat with a colleague, and come back. The outdoors can refresh you and give you an opportunity to refocus at work.

When you think about the mental barriers that leaders face, I think there are three top barriers: imposter syndrome, fear of change, and perfectionism, or fear of failure.

[1:04] Leaders can also support their faculty and staff by encouraging growth and development opportunities. We have an opportunity to create mastery and competency in your skill set. You are able to manage stress more when challenges or adversity come.

[1:22] There's more confidence in being able to say, "I understand this," or, "This is a new place for me," and then give yourself grace that it's a new place so that the burnout doesn't bubble up, so to speak, as rapidly. You can be kind to yourself and be kind to others.

[1:40] When leaders allow the space for their faculty to actually be human by being kind to themselves, they'll see that they have greater participation. When you think about the mental barriers that leaders face, I think there are three top barriers: imposter syndrome, fear of change, and perfectionism, or fear of failure.

[2:04] Imposter syndrome really deals with having the competencies and skills, but doubting yourself. There's the issue of low self confidence there. When we look at that, in terms of building strategies, take a personal assessment. Look at the evidence of your career as to what you have been able to produce and what you have been able to invest in others.

[2:27] Good leaders not only advance themselves, but they advance those others around them. If you're looking at a team or students that have gone on to do great things, you're not an imposter. [laughs] You're actually doing what you are intending to do.

[2:44] You are developing, delivering, and performing. That should help you overcome some of the challenges with confidence as to whether or not you are actually performing at a high level.

Good leaders not only advance themselves, but they advance those others around them.

[2:59] When you consider strategies for overcoming the fear of change, assess what the change is. Look to see if there's an opportunity to segment it. Is the change occurring because there's a change in the sector? Is there a change in the environment?

[3:18] We've experienced a lot of change over the past two years, and so there's some reluctance to project what the future looks like. Well, we never knew what the future looked like, but if you organize your way of work so that it's more manageable, so that you can communicate it in ways that aren't overwhelming for you or your faculty, you can move forward.

[3:39] Then perfectionism. That is it good enough? Is it good enough means really challenge yourself by bringing it to the market. Put it in front of the faculty. Ask them for feedback. Try new things with the students. Ask them for feedback. Take that data and build the next level.

[3:57] If you wait for what is going to be perfect, you'll find yourself always waiting. [laughs] That is not going to benefit you, your faculty, or your students. As we think about mental toughness, removing barriers, demonstrate the willingness, the courage, the vulnerability to push through, to understand what is best for everyone, what's working, and then give yourself the grace and the flexibility to do it all over again if it doesn't work.

The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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