One of the five stages of burnout is being emotionally exhausted. Brought on by chronic stress, emotional exhaustion manifests itself as routine feelings of physical depletion and emotional fatigue. The source of stress can be anything from one’s work to one’s personal life, but the result is a lack of interest in most things and a general feeling of lethargy. When you are in a leadership position, this can be an impediment to your work.

2020 was a challenging year for everyone, regardless of industry. In the academic world, COVID caused a complete disruption of the entire teaching paradigm, forcing educators to scramble together a reasonable substitute. Educational leaders faced the additional task of overseeing the changes. The logistics of coordinating hybrid classrooms, ensuring both students’ and teachers’ safety, easing parents’ minds, and maintaining a good curriculum track has been a time-consuming and frustrating endeavor for many educators.

Most leaders excel in hard skills, but 2020 has caused an uptick in the need for soft skill development. Employees’ mental health and wellness are paramount to any organization’s success, and empathy has been the guiding force behind successful leadership this past year. Whether you are resolving conflict or just letting voices be heard, the parents, students, and teachers in your life will have a better time adapting to this new normal if they feel leadership support.

Encourage your team to find an outlet to expel any pent-up energy or emotions from working all week. When creating or modifying a work culture, the most effective method is to lead by example. If you want your employees to know that they should feel free to express themselves in a safe environment, hold virtual office hours for them to air their grievances. Demonstrate how to perform short mindfulness exercises or other means of self-care. In addition, remind your employees that it is ok to cry. It is not a sign of weakness to express emotions. 

Another mindfulness exercise to perform yourself and teach your employees is practicing gratitude. Not only does it help reframe any existing conflict by placing it in a bigger picture, but it also holds a trove of psychological benefits. The more relaxed and content you are, the better you can lead others.