< Back to All Insights and Resources

CEO Burnout: 4 Strategies To Recharge

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, the best CEOs shifted into high gear, pivoting their businesses, protecting their workforces, and scanning the disrupted landscape for BIG opportunities.

Two years later, many CEOs are still grinding that high gear. Not necessarily because they have to, but because they’re stuck. All those late nights and skipped weekends that were necessary during the pandemic pivot became a habit.


Unsurprisingly, reports of executive burnout are on the rise. One recent study found that 37% of executives are working longer hours than they did before the pandemic. More than 75% are experiencing mental and physical health concerns related to their work.

Under normal circumstances, the job of a CEO is tough enough. But as we move towards a post-pandemic world that continues to present new types of challenges, longer hours and rising levels of executive stress just aren’t sustainable trends. Your vision for this next phase of your company also has to include a new vision for your own role, including strategies for battling executive burnout. Try incorporating one or more of these four ideas into your workday so that BIG stress doesn’t get between you and Making BIG Happen.

1. Take back your schedule.

With so many work-life boundaries blurring right now, the CEO has to be intentional about setting and sticking to a healthy schedule. If you can’t block off some time to unplug, exercise, eat well, and get a good night’s sleep, then you’re not running a business. The business is running you.

Remember, being the boss doesn’t mean that you have to personally manage everything that’s happening. You’re the poet, not the plumber. Set targets, put measurable, actionable steps in place that will move the company toward those targets, and delegate responsibility.

If you don’t feel like you can do that, then somewhere you’ve cut a corner. Maybe your vision isn’t BIG enough to achieve meaningful growth. Maybe you haven’t identified the best processes to drive KPIs.

Or, most likely of all, you haven’t hired top performers to whom you can delegate key tasks. Upgrade your team and you’ll find a lot more white space on your daily agenda that you can fill in with trips to the gym or 20 minutes of meditation.

2. Go small.

If learning a musical instrument or training for an IRONMAN sounds like an impossible time commitment, look for less demanding ways to achieve your self-care goals. Need to exercise more? Get up an hour earlier and run or ride your bike before work. Can’t stop micromanaging, even though you know your team is the best? Work from home on Fridays, or pad your lunch hour with a walk through the park to clear your head. Lost the 30,000 foot perspective on your business? Devote one afternoon every week to reading, attending webinars, or other learning activities.

It’s also important that your CEO care routine is really yours. Don’t try to jump into the hot fitness movement or hobby of the week just because you see other CEOs posting about it on social media. A demanding activity that you don’t really enjoy is just going to lead to more burnout. If all you really need is a good cup of coffee and an hour with the newspaper, embrace that small change.

3. Step down from your pedestal.

Many CEOs are so worried about looking strong that they can’t even be honest with themselves about their vulnerabilities. They see executive stress as a weakness that they can only overcome by working harder. And they think mental health is touchy-feely nonsense that low achievers use as an excuse.

My message to those CEOs: get over yourself.

A successful business doesn’t need Superman, it needs a leader. Part of leadership is setting a BIG vision and modeling the confidence you want your whole team to feel as you march towards that goal. But leadership is also about understanding your people as people. You’ll never be able to develop essential EQ skills or conquer burnout if you can’t look yourself in the mirror and say, “I need a break, and that’s OK.”

Allow yourself to be human, and you’ll be much more attuned to the self-care you need to reduce burnout and be the high performer your company needs. Show that same vulnerable, imperfect leader to your employees and customers, and they’re going to connect to you and your company on a much more personal level. That connection will be good for culture, good for business, and good for your health.

4. Build out your support network.

Just as you acclimated too well to working overtime, you might also be too used to working in your CEO silo. This year, make reestablishing person-to-person connections a priority.

Start taking those lunch meetings with other CEOs so that you can see how they’re handling their own work-life challenges. Get in touch with that old boss who mentored your transition from management to CEO. Work with an executive coach who can give you a new perspective on your business and help you focus your time on the select tasks that only the CEO can accomplish.

Being the CEO can be lonely, especially when you’re under the kind of pressure that we’ve all experienced since COVID-19. But no CEO accomplishes anything meaningful all on their own. The people you can connect with during these moments of transition are going to be critical to your business’ success and your own battle against burnout. Be open with them, and yourself, about what you’re thinking, feeling, and needing, personally and professionally. That clarity will guide you away from burning out and back to Making BIG Happen.

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 31% (2.6X the U.S. average) and an average EBITDA CAGR of 52.3% (more than 5X the U.S. average).

Learn more about executive coaching | Meet our world-class coaches

Related Content

Shelley Van Etten

How to Successfully Transition to the Second Ge...

CEO Coaching Int'l ...

Read more
Jon Hyman podcast

7-Time CEO Jon Hyman's Roadmap for Creating Hig...

CEO Coaching Int'l Guest: Jon Hyman, a coach at CEO Coaching International. Jon is a four-time entrepreneu...

Read more
Jon Hyman

Former CEO of Greenfields Americas and Founder ...

Former CEO of Greenfields Americas and Founder of Softspikes, Sportgrass, and CeraTech Joins CEO Coaching Internation...

Read more