Leadership fatigue is one of the significant risks that high-achievers or leaders really should keep a careful eye out for.

Sadly, however – often because leaders have an “I can handle everything” attitude — they never see burnout coming.

Because leaders are typically very excited about what they do, they prefer to neglect the reality that they work incredibly long hours, take on disproportionately large workloads and place immense pressure on themselves to excel — all of which makes them prime for burnout.

It is a condition of intense and persistent tension induced by social, behavioral, and physical fatigue. It happens when you feel overwhelmed and incapable of meeting constant demands. As the tension persists, you begin to lose confidence or inspiration, which leads you to take on specific tasks in the first place. It reduces efficiency and saps your resources, making you feel even more weak, depressed, pessimistic, and resentful. You could eventually feel like you’ve got nothing else to offer.

Leadership fatigue’s detrimental consequences carry out into other aspects of life— including the family, job, and social life. Burnout may also induce long-term physical problems that leave you susceptible to illnesses such as colds and flu. It’s essential to deal with burnout immediately because of many other physical, mental, and emotional consequences.


Chronic fatigue

You can experience a lot of strength in the early stages. During the later phases, you feel tired, stressed, and weakened physically and mentally, so you may have a sense of anxiety for what lies ahead on any given day.


You may have difficulty falling asleep in the early morning or remaining asleep one or two days a week. During the later stages, insomnia could transform into a chronic, nightly ordeal; you can’t sleep no matter how tired you are.

Forgetfulness / Focus and performance affected.

The symptoms are loss of concentration and slight forgetfulness. Finally, the issues can get to the point that you can’t complete tasks, and it all starts piling up.


Specific signs include increased pressure in the abdomen, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach discomfort, dizziness, fainting, or headaches (all of which can be treated medically).

Increased illness

When your body becomes drained, the immune system is compromised, leaving you more vulnerable to illnesses, colds, flu, and other medical conditions connected with the immune system.

Appetite deficit

You might not feel thirsty in the early days so that you can miss a few meals. However, you can lose your appetite in the later stages entirely and start losing a substantial amount of weight.


You may have moderate signs of stress, fear, and edginess early on. However, if you get closer to burnout, the discomfort may become so serious that it interferes with your successful capacity to function and can create issues with your personal life.


You can feel somewhat depressed and often helpless in the early stages, and as a consequence, you can encounter feelings of remorse and worthlessness. You could feel stuck and seriously stressed and at its lowest, you may think that the planet will be a better place without you. (If your depression has reached this level, you can receive urgent medical help.)


At first, anger can pose as emotional conflict and irritability. This will, in the later stages, transform into furious outbursts and violent disagreements at home and work. If anger progresses to rage against family, friends, or coworkers in your thoughts or actions of aggression, pursue urgent medical aid.


Loss of enjoyment

The lack of pleasure can appear very slight at first. In the beginning, it may simply appear as a lack of desire to go to work or having the desire to quit. The lack of pleasure will slowly spread to all aspects of your life, including your time with family and friends.


Pessimism can show itself at first as negative self-talk or switch from a glass-half-full mentality to a glass-half-empty one. At your worst, this will go past how you feel about yourself and broaden to think that you can’t rely on others – to confidence problems with friends and family members.


It could sound like a slight aversion to socializing in the early stages (i.e., not wanting to go out to lunch; sometimes locking the door to keep people out). In the later stages, you can get upset while someone is talking to you, or you might come home early or quite late to prevent encounters with others.


Detachment is being disconnected from you or the environment. It may take the shape of the habits listed above, which results in emotional and physical withdrawal from your work and other obligations both emotionally and physically. You may sometimes call in sick, avoid answering telephone calls or come in late daily.

Signs of apathy and lack of optimism

This is similar to depression and pessimism. Such feelings can become immobilizing as the symptoms intensify. And you may sometimes feel like, “what’s the point?”

Increased irritability

Irritability also stems from feeling inadequate, unimportant, pointless, and an increasing perception that you can’t perform anything as well or efficiently as you once did. This will conflict with personal and professional partnerships in the early stages. At its worst, blocks and jobs, and important relationships can be ruined.

Decreased Productivity

Chronic fatigue, given long hours, keeps you from becoming as successful as you once were, sometimes contributing to unfinished tasks and a rising to-do list. As much as you try, it often appears you can’t get out of the pit.

If you don’t have all of these issues, that’s excellent! But do keep in mind these warning signals, knowing that burnout is an evil phenomenon that creeps up on you as you live your busy life.

If you notice any of these signs, take it as a wake-up call that you may consider yourself on a risky road. Take some time to honestly assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late. Leadership fatigue isn’t like the flu; after a couple of weeks, burnout won’t just get better; it won’t go anywhere until you make a couple of adjustments in your life. And as challenging as that might be, it’s the best thing to do because making a few improvements now will keep you in the fight with plenty of resources to carry you to the finish line!


  • Dr. Tomi Mitchell

    M.D | Leadership Coach| Wellness & Productivity Coach

    Dr. Tomi Mitchell Holistic Wellness Strategies

    Dr. Tomi Mitchell, MD, empowers executives, lawyers, doctors, business owners, and other leaders to eliminate burnout and increase workplace productivity and relationships.  She uses her three-step framework, Embrace, Evaluate & Energize, to empower her clients to have clarity. 

    As a public speaker and trainer, she brings energy to the crowd, captures their attention, and gives them clear, actionable steps to apply immediately to their life. Dr. Tomi Mitchell believes in getting to the root causes of life's challenges, instead of taking a temporary BandAid approach to life. She is a writer, with a book coming out in Summer 2023. She is also the host of The Mental Health & Wellness Show.  To learn more about her framework, check out the following link: Learn More.