The Cost of Leadership: Burnout and the High-Profile Exodus

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Insights from Outstanding Leadership Awards Finalist, Tanya O’Shea

This morning, Tanya O’Shea, the Managing Director of IMPACT Community Services, engaged in a conversation with David Dowsett on ABC Wide Bay Breakfast. The discussion centred around her recent nomination for the Outstanding Leadership Awards and the unique challenges faced by individuals in high-pressure leadership roles.

One critical topic explored was leadership burnout” and its potential impact on prominent leaders who have recently stepped down from their positions. Notable figures like Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll, and Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci were cited as examples.

The conversation also delved into the effects of recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, cost-of-living crises, and the relentless pressures of social media on leaders already navigating demanding roles.

Tanya, drawing from her experience, shared valuable insights into effective strategies for self-care and burnout prevention.

For those interested, the full interview recording is available below.

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services' Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" is a weekly column where Tanya explores key issues. This week Tanya focuses on what it means to be a leader in both your personal and professional life.

Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

When we talk about leadership, it should not always be within the context of a business position; rather we should also be talking about what it means to be a leader of your own life, and what that looks like.

Taking control of your own narrative and life for yourself rather than for others is not an easy task; it involves honest self-reflection and attention, setting boundaries and goals.

It may even involve quitting – and that’s not a bad thing. While there are currently some negative connotations with the word ‘quit’, as though you’ve given up or failed; the root word aligns with notions of freedom and being clear.

You’re not giving up on something, you’re freeing yourself from a direction, a job, a habit, a relationship, that didn’t serve you.

You chose not to give up on yourself and neglect your needs.

Resilience is one of the key attributes of a good leader, and it certainly applies to leading your own life.

Being able to recognise what you want and even who you are can be hard when very specific and non-inclusive societal narratives have been maintained throughout human history.

However, the prevalence of a mainstream narrative doesn’t mean it’s right and it certainly doesn't mean you are wrong if you don’t conform to society’s expectations.

Being resilient isn’t about being unwavering or unaffected by a situation – you're human and you’re allowed to feel, you’re allowed to change your mind and you’re allowed to dream. Resilience is being able to recover, adapt, and keep going.

It’s the ‘get knocked down seven times, get up eight’ spirit.

At IMPACT Community Services we invest in building resilience and leadership in our staff through myriad tools.

We have established a Leaders Lab for people in management positions to be involved in a monthly staff training sessions.

As an organisation we have the Impact Academy which encourages staff to pursue personal development in fields of interest to them through online learning courses, and champion mental health and cognitive awareness/reflection through various programs.

Understanding who you are can be the first step to living authentically and thriving in your daily life.

It can be an overwhelming process, so remember to take care of your wellbeing and give yourself a break.

It’s not about having all the answers right now, life is the journey of asking questions to find them and if you need support it’s available.

If this sounds like the type of workplace you’d like to clock in to, now’s your chance.

There is currently a range of vacant position that could be what you’re looking for. Click here or phone 4153 4233 to find out which roles are hiring.

While leadership is often easy to define, it’s not always so easy to practice.

But IMPACT Community Services’ Finance Manager Jenna Williams has been leading and developing her skills since joining the Bundaberg team five years ago.

Jenna joined IMPACT in 2017 as a Finance Officer, before taking on the role as Finance Team Leader in October 2018 and more recently took on the role as Finance Manager in January 2022.

During her time at IMPACT, she has completed a Foundation of Intentional Leadership program (FoIL), run through the Institute of Mangers and Leaders, after being selected by IMPACT management to attend.

The FoIL program, now called Leaders Lab, seeks to develop leadership in staff as the organisation grows its own workforce.

Leaders Lab involves monthly staff training sessions, Diversity Council of Australia sessions, access to IMPACT Academy for personal development resources, coaching, mentoring and more.

“I have learnt so much while working at IMPACT and value the commitment they have to developing their staff,” she said.

“I am a strong believer that you never stop learning and IMPACT support this.”

Jenna said it was great to be a part of the finance team as they all pitch in and help and support each other where needed.

She said the finance team has continued to grow and strengthen throughout her time at IMPACT and it’s something she’s looking forward to continuing.

“With new finance and payroll systems currently being implemented, our current goal is to navigate through the changes that these systems will bring,” she said.

“We will have a focus on improving and streamlining our processes and collaborating with IMPACT’s programs and managers to ensure that we are providing value.”

In her new role, Jenna is looking forward to her own professional growth as a leader.

“I also like to challenge myself and see my own growth, so that I can continue to lead the Finance team,” she said.

“It is great to know that I play a small part in making a difference in the community,” she said.

Hearing good news stories at staff meetings highlights that the community is benefiting from having an organisation like IMPACT and the programs that we deliver.

IMPACT Community Services has a range of support services in employment, training, mental health and volunteering.

To find our more visit impact.org.au or phone 4153 4233.

IMPACT is open from 8am-5pm Monday to Thursday and 8am-4.30pm Friday.

Please note: This website may contain references to, or feature images, videos, and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have passed away.

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