Senior leadership has been experiencing more chronic stress, feeling far more exhausted, and suffering significantly more burnout when compared to their overall workforce. Can you feel it? Furthermore, the gender gap for burnout has almost doubled with women affected more. Following a grueling 2-year pandemic, this is the picture in virtually every organization.

Burnout is perhaps not surprisingly, affecting the crucial high-potential and upcoming leaders cohort more. This group of invaluable future leadership is twice as likely to leave their company in the next year when compared to their peers who were not burned out. The ‘Great Resignation’ of your most important human capital is upon us and we are incumbent to not accept that they are primed to literally walk out the door.

The stark realization is that organizations have woefully underappreciated the systematic training and preparation that senior and future leaders need, and are seeking, to manage stress and burnout. Today’s environment demands more than IQ, EQ or traditional training of leadership competencies.

Where we are now, demands our attention to wellness, to “WQ” the merging point of your organization’s leadership development and the well-being of your team.

All organizations and research-based leadership competencies profiles have one thing in common: they promote trainable knowledge and skills such as financial literacy, effective communication and cultural sensitivity. The issue is that while these aptitudes help leaders be operationally effective, without more insightful anticipation as to their broader reality, it leaves them biologically unprepared.

Any leader who lacks the trained awareness to manage their physiological and emotional health, risks the danger of not recognizing, or worse discounting, the signs of physical illness or mental impairment. Without an informed view, a leader’s default to focus on crises and survival, hoping they do not ‘break or snap’ is a type of corporate boldness that is a throwback to a more basic and “simpler” times.

It’s expedient to believe that leaders can independently overcome present challenges and thrive without physiological and emotional health. It’s an easier view to assume so, however, anecdote and observation make that assumption a present and future non-starter. Employers may myopically assume their leaders know how to take care of their physiological and emotional health. Sadly, the many who feel they are super-human, and can ‘overcome’ are amongst those who fall harder.

In our thought provoking piece titled: Physiological and emotional health: The forgotten competencies for effective leadership, my colleague, Dr. Bill Howatt and I, highlight the present necessity for every employer to anticipate and ensure that their leadership core competencies profile is anchored on the foundation of physiological and emotional health.

Leaders run their organizations based on data, facts and experienced intuition. Similarly, creating a physically and mentally healthy person requires one to know and learn to sense, how well their body is functioning. Many manufacturing organizations practice, “predictive maintenance”. A system of surveillance that essentially predicts the need for equipment attention ahead of a breakdown to lower or eliminate “downtime” and cost. With attention to the monitoring of physical biomarkers, hormone and nutrient levels, we can accomplish much of the same for our teams. Without biochemical markers in harmony, organs will strain to function adequately to detox, destress, repair, and recover from the ravages of daily physical and mental micro-traumas.

When we realize and embrace that physiological and emotional health competencies, the “WQ”, crucially underpin leadership success, we move into the next phase of organization responsibility. Decision-makers who will herald this shift, do not need to be leadership or health experts, rather their role is to recognize and catalyze the opportunity to turn attention to the predictive nature of the biometric data of their leaders.

Innovation Health Group can accelerate a framework to develop physiological and emotional health competencies. Via learning modules delivered in-person and online for individuals and groups alike and matched with personalized biomarker testing with 1:1 health coaching support, organizations can strengthen their WQ “future-proofing” to galvanize a new level of team wellness, engagement and leadership retention.


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