If we sacrifice too much for too long and reap too little at work, the authors of a new book, Resonant Leadership, say we can become trapped in what they call the Sacrifice Syndrome:
Over time, we become exhausted - we burn out or burn up. The constant small crises, heavy responsibilities, and perpetual need to influence people can be a heavy burden, so much so that we find ourselves trapped in the Sacrifice Syndrome and slip into internal disquiet, unrest, and distress. In other words, dissonance becomes the default, even for leaders who can create resonance. And, because our emotions are contagious, dissonance spreads quickly to those around us and eventually permeates our organizations. Dissonant leaders wreak havoc. They are at the mercy of volatile emotions and reactivity. They drive people too hard, for the wrong reasons, and in the wrong directions. They leave frustration, fear, and antagonism in their wake. And they are often completely unaware of the damage they have done.
Check the following list from their book. Many of these clues can help you determine if you are heading in the wrong direction, so you can catch yourself before you slide into "dissonance."
- Working harder with less result?
- Getting home later or leaving home earlier each day?
- Feeling tired, even after sleeping?
- Having trouble falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night?
- Finding less time (or no time at all) for the things that used to be enjoyable?
- Rarely relaxed, or only really relaxed with alcohol?
- Drinking more coffee?
Have I noticed changes in myself or my relationships, such as:
- I can no longer really talk about my problems with my spouse.
- I don't care what I eat, or whether I eat too much or too little.
- I can't remember the last time I had a long conversation with a trusted friend or family member.
- My children have stopped asking me to attend their functions or games.
- I no longer attend my place of worship or find time for quiet contemplation.
- I don't exercise as much as I used to.
- I don't smile or laugh as much as I used to.
- Have frequent headaches, backaches or pain?
- Routinely take over-the-counter antacids or painkillers?
- Feel as if nothing I do seems to matter anymore, or have the impact I want?
- Feel as if no one can understand what I need to do, or how much work I have?
- Sometimes feel numb or react to situations with inappropriately strong emotions?
- Feel too overwhelmed to see new experiences, ideas or ways of doing things?
- Frequently think about how to escape my current situation?