When executives burn out

Harv Bus Rev. 1981 May-Jun;59(3):73-81.


The military knows about burn-out--but calls it battle fatigue. To offset its devastating effects, the military routinely schedules its personnel for recreation and relaxation retreats, sends soldiers into combat in groups so they can support and help each other, and limits the number of flights that pilots fly. Managers are not soldiers but, according to this author and others who have researched the subject, they are prone to a similar exhaustion and sense of futility. Like other professionals, mental health workers, and policemen who work under severe pressure in people-oriented jobs for long periods of time--with little support and limited gains--managers are among the prime victims of burn-out. The author describes what burn-out is, discusses why he thinks that modern organizations are good breeding grounds for situations that lead to it, and offers some helpful ways top managers can combat it.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*