How Leaders and Teams can avoid Burnout

Desiree Anderson

Desiree Anderson helps others find their purpose in life and their purpose in work and she specializes in business relationships and burnout.

It’s not what happens to  you that determines your success, it’s what happens in you.  Guaranteeing your wellbeing involves recognising your inadequacies, embracing your vulnerability and empowering yourself with support from others to stand strong.  In the state of burnout this is an impossible goal to achieve.

Many people seek advancements and the reward systems in organisations based on quantity  rather than quality of work.  .  We keep telling stories that propel us to work harder than we should. We do not set the boundaries that we should”.  Many clients in HR and leaders are really struggling with the new ways of working and finding that with long COVID difficulties will continue.   People are having challenges with hybrid teams.

Desiree Anderson helps others find their purpose in life and their purpose in work and she specializes in business relationships and burnout.  Having herself experienced burnout, she is passionate about helping others.   Desiree offers five practical tips.

1.   Exercising self-compassion encourages the exploration of whether people are getting a support system when they present themselves in their work. 

2.   People  should not feel disconnected.  Instead employers should be ultimately providing a  safe environment to launch that change in behaviour that can be practiced and then brought back into coaching to be refined.   

3.   Be inclusive and embrace inclusive practices to thrive and flourish.  “Inclusivity diversity at its core realises we are different in every shape or form.  We also are different in how we confront challenges. We have saboteurs such as perfectionists. We tell ourselves unhelpful stories. We procrastinate, We compare, we embrace the imposter syndrome.  We make friends with  resentment, regret, guilt about things in our past.  Lets break the chain from these negative patterns.

4.   Build psychological safety. Toxic psychological environments don’t help us grow.  Instead they prevent the building of healthy business building blocks.  It is healthy practices and habits  that strengthen  mental health perspectives and serve up strategies to avoid burnout. 

5.      Be intentional: Touch points occur between family, personal relationships and our relationship to ourselves.  Start paying more attention to verbal and nonverbal clues. Get to know  people on a personal level, develop our relationship to ourselves as leaders  With self-awareness comes a better  understanding  our triggers, our development areas and an increase in seeking out feedback.

“The cornerstone is to make sure that in our teams, we hire with values in mind, increasing the appeal of people coming into the organisation  aligned with the values of the organisation.  People’s values right at the start match with the talent management systems. In  the long run, we retain people who want to communicate within that environment”.

“Real empathy is considering that somebody else might be right.  This is mind blowing  I think it’s really very relevant now, isn’t it?” Desiree concludes

Are you looking for a new role?  Are you in transition?  Do you want to achieve balance in your career and life?  If your desire is to ride the CREST of your own WAVE and develop and grow, 5 steps to elevate your career is for you.  

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Having experienced a variety of corporate environments both in the UK and abroad  Desiree supports others to ride the crest of working life and reach their unique potential with well-being and happiness.


00:00:00 Tesse: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host, Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okonneh, where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery, we are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk with us in this adventure.
00:00:28 Tesse: Our guest today is Desiree Anderson and we are going to be talking about how leaders and teams can avoid burnout but before we start talking about that, I’m going to share with you a little bit about who Desiree is.
00:00:47 Tesse: Desiree Anderson is a qualified executive coach and mentor. She worked in cooperate as a successful HR consultant before qualifying as an executive coach at the university of Bristol and setting up Crest Coaching and HR in 2020. She helps others find their purpose in life and their purpose in work and she specializes in business relationships and burnout. Having experienced a variety of corporate environments both in the UK and abroad and having herself experienced burnout, she is passionate about helping customers ride the crest of working life and reaching their unique potential with well-being and happiness.
00:01:40 Tesse: She helps clients through one-on-one coaching, through workshops and group coaching sessions. Desiree is fantastic, I could go on and on, but I’ll tell you a little bit about her personally, she lives in Guilford and spends time with her family walking in the forest, near her home, she does yoga and she immerses herself in her passion of life long learning. Welcome to “Tessetalks”, we always have fabulous people and you have not disappointed us, you are fantastic, can’t wait to hear and to talk more with you.
00:02:13 Tesse: Desiree, you know, when I think of one of the joys of lockdown, you are one of the joy because I met you through LinkedIn and Instagram and, you know, I just thought what a treasure and so I’m delighted that you said yes to the invitation to come on “Tessetalks”.
00:02:31 Desiree: Thank you so much and lovely to be with the two of you here today.
00:02:35 Tesse: Oh, wonderful. I’m going to kick off with my first inquiry cause I am always curious and you know, burnout, stress is so prevalent today and in our workplaces, what are, what do you think are some of the reasons for these prevelence?
00:02:54 Desiree: Yeah, such a relevant question Tesse. I think burnout has become more and more relevant in the workplace because people fear at the very core losing their jobs. Many people also seek advancements and the reward systems in organizations are based on quantity of work and not always quantity. Also as individuals, we tend to seek approval, maybe seek approval from others and seek approval from our bosses and social media does nothing to help us in that area because there’s so much comparison and so fear of failure starts to creep in. Again, we often have unrealistic expectations or bosses and organizations may be feeling quite desperate in the current climate and so expect a lot of the people in their organizations that becomes unrealistic from a time perspective and an emotional perspective and then I wanted to mention as well, so we have saboteurs such as perfectionists. The unhelpful stories that we tell ourselves procrastination comparison, as I mentioned, imposter syndrome. Resentment, regret, guilt about things maybe in our past that we have not overcome and that leads us to keep telling us a story in our lives and business that propels us to work harder than we should and not set the boundaries that we should, so work-life balance and shift work and things like seasonal peaks and people that have to work nights, that’s also not helpful at the moment, we think of the NHS as an example and so ultimately this is all a melting pot of a toxic psychological environment for many people where we almost have to disconnect ourselves and take ourselves back to the core of what our values are, why are we working? What is it that we want to achieve in our lives? And then really start from that and build a healthy business building block from a mental health perspective to avoid that burnout.
00:05:04 Paula: I think so many people can relate to that. So, listening to you say that, or talk about that, what can we do to encourage people to have a greater connection or collaboration in the workplace so that they feel less of the imposter syndrome and the self-sabotage that you talked about?
00:05:25 Desiree: Yeah, Paula, I think it’s quite, multi-pronged to be honest, it’s fairly complex, but if we break it down into four or five key areas, I’ll do a brief description of the key things that I think would possibly help us, so I definitely think that the wider company’s connection with their employees needs to be addressed. Leaders and their teams and that relationship, team member to team member, then family and personal relationships, because I think the lockdown has taught us that we can’t disconnect work from who we are as people so I think we all know that that is an area that needs to be dealt with and the relationship of person to themselves, and that’s something I deal with a lot as a coach is getting that part right, so thinking about the relationship of company to employees, the strategy and objectives needs to be linked to each person’s objectives so that each person knows hundred percent, what their role is in the company and on a daily basis, if there are online, there’s some kind of a dashboard or visual linking their achievements, linking their role to the wider company, and then also leadership visibility so that people understand and I know that’s been an age old thing, but especially in these times, so leaders definitely need to be that one that’s representing the company. Things like cross team focus groups very very vital and continuous feedback mechanisms, even in online meetings or face to face. How do we get feedback about the company as a whole, the processes, the policies, and get that feedback from individuals and also feedback as leaders on our own leadership ability and that’s something that we can do very, very skillfully by weaving that into our meetings and asking appropriate open questions and then also on that first point, just making sure that especially as we move more into gig type of economy, where there’s more temporary workers that we try and harness people’s learning and connection to the organization quickly and appreciate the wide emission that they have to the company values and then when we think of leaders and their teams now is making sure that we do show a human side, I know we are saying that and a lot of people are saying yes, but now that I’m human, it’s becoming very difficult for me to lead, but I think it is a part making sure as leaders we are vulnerable, but we show how we’ve overcome that, how those lessons have actually taught us various things and then we can show our employees and really be with them as a team member, almost sort of as part of their journey and I think also making sure that we invest in as leaders in coaching our own development and develop a communication style, be it in check-ins one-to-one team group, that we vary that communication starts between of touch points between all of our employees and then in terms of family and personal relationships and our relationship to ourselves, I think, here we need to start paying more attention to verbal and nonverbal clues so it’s not good enough to just say, how are you? But the leader needs to start being very, very tuned in to somebody’s words they turn a voice and just clues that might come from the personal environment that the person has that maybe they not saying also really get to know your people on a personal level, it might be that somebody is for instance, into fitness and you do your one- to- ones while they’re having their daily walk, stuff like that, just so that, you can start breaking through those work employee leader values and also get used to change, help people to realize that change is fine, so if you have to be more flexible in their contract, do so with grace and just make that part of procedures and working life and not such a big thing and then finally, your relationship to yourself as a leader, understanding your triggers, your development areas, seeking feedback, as I said, continuously, but openly realizing I think we said earlier, none of us are perfect so just acknowledging that humbly and making sure that we know that we can learn from others at all times and do things like journaling, reflection, exercise and finally, I think the most important exercising self-compassion for ourselves and there are various ways that I deal with my clients and help them to nurture that because we tend to be our own worst enemies in that guide, so that would be my top tips for connection in the workplace.
00:10:17 Tesse: Hi Desiree, I really liked that answer because you touched on so many things and, you know, as a coach, how, what will, how can coaching improve leadership? If you kind of walk us through some of the applications of what you’ve said, where have you seen coaching or a coaching approach help address some of these issues?
00:10:41 Desiree: Yes, I think coaching will help the individual support and give them support to uncover limiting beliefs and strengthen their self-awareness. I think that is the cornerstone, especially when you’re dealing with burnout and self-sabotage, and also help individuals and leaders define strategies for implementation, so you could really help somebody with practical ways of implementing those things in the workplace after they’ve gained more self-awareness because as we know, leadership can be very lonely and coaching will provide that objective advice away from the team and help with very structured questioning methods, if you think of NLP that provides many structured ways, especially in an area like this, to help that person understand others and develop more emotionally intelligence and empathy towards themselves and others, and then also it can really help when you providing a leader or a member of team with real listening. Nonjudgmental listening, because as we said before, a lot of this is wrapped up in targets and people feeling a great pressure on performing and so just simply listening without judgment can really help remove these mental stumbling blocks, and then finally a coach who’s an expert can help a leader practice habits and formulas for their unique success strategies, because we’re all different and we’ve all got our unique superpowers, so it’s helping clients uncover those unique aspects that need to be brought to the fore on both their work and their lifestyle. I think this is an important point to mention is to keep balancing the two, bring that leader back to what is happening in their personal life, how are they making sure they’re getting a support system so that when they present themselves in their work, they don’t feel so disconnected and then ultimately providing, as I said, that safe enviroment to launch that change in behavior that can be practiced and then brought back into coaching to be refined.
00:13:01 Tesse: Yeah, that’s all helpful, I’m thinking about a particular case I had, this was a little while ago and there’s a chief executive who felt very, very stress before he went to any board meeting and the night before he went to board meeting, he would really worry about it to be worrying about what board members would say or not say the questions they would ask and it became quite a tricky situation for him because, you know, he wasn’t really present for some of the things happening in the board because he was so stressed that if you were to coach that man, what would you, how would you be coaching him through the stress, he was experiencing so that he could be more, you know, engaged with the actual meeting when he got there.
00:13:50 Desiree: Yeah, that’s really common one, isn’t it? Where we worry about what other people are going to think of us, we worried about our performance and that starts affecting our sleep, our mental health, we become snappy at home and then we also go into that boardroom maybe as a chief executive and not really empower or engage others and so we do then end up disconnecting because people see us as this authority figure, I guess how I would deal with an individual like that is simply as an individual, so talk to them about where these limiting beliefs started from and really dig deep about any formative beliefs that perhaps haven’t started in childhood, where maybe that person had parents who expected them to achieve a lot and if they didn’t achieve, they felt that they weren’t going to be as adequate or had a sense of belonging so they kept just feeling judged by firstly, their parents and then later on in life, just this constant drive and what I would do with that individual as well, is that probably to an NLP exercise called perceptual positions, where you get that person to look at how they interact in their reasons and then think about the other people that they’re interacting with, where could they be coming from? What did they expect from the experience? And then finally take a bird’s eye view and take a more objective view of the situation and then reframe it for themselves. What I’d probably do as well as put in place a mental health strategies for the individual where they start having some affirmations and they also think about what is their ultimate vision of success and what is the ultimate purpose? Do they want to inspire their team? What is the purpose of the organization and how did they try and make sure that the focus is not just on them, get some of their senior people to take some leadership during that meeting so that not all the attention focuses on them and then get some feedback from that strategy, so that would be my first port of call.
00:16:04 Tesse: That’s excellent. Paula, what are you thinking?
00:16:08 Paula: I really loved what you said Desiree about helping the end in terms of how you would help that individual and how you’d coach them, especially in sharing some of the responsibilities because many times when we think about what we have to do, and then we think we have to do it alone, that’s when the self limited thoughts come in I really, really, really love how you’d help that individual, but what you do, it’s all about relationships and helping the work, people to function better in the workplace and so I was wondering if there was any additional tips you could give to us or can share with us with how to encourage even better relationships at work so that work becomes less of a burden, but more of we know it’s part and parcel of our life and so something that we know that we have to do, where we can do it without the stress and the fear and all the self limiting thoughts that we sometimes put upon ourselves and associate with work.
00:17:12 Desiree: Wow, a really deep question there, Paula, and makes me think too, because I have many clients in HR and leaders as well at the moment that are really struggling with the new ways of working and finding that with long COVID and the issues people are having with hybrid teams at the moment is placing extra stress, on the workplace and so I think the cornerstone here is to make sure that in our teams, that we hire with values in mind, but not necessarily just making people come into the organization that have values of the organization but I think now it’s actually matching the organization to people’s values right at the start so getting that into your, our talent management systems, so that in a long run, we retain people who want to communicate within that environment so we get that right from the start and then I think what we need to do is understand that change is inevitable. We did touch on change earlier, but what I mean by that is, change is inevitable and people and different personalities are inevitable, so we’d need to really start coaching and training people more in the workplace to understand differences, I think one of the best pieces of advice anybody gave me after years and years and years of being a consultant and banding about the word empathy is, real empathy is considering that somebody else might be right, wow, mind blown because that part of it I’ve never fully understood and I think it’s really very relevant now, isn’t it? Because that little Pearl of wisdom is all of what I am thinking maybe I’m not actually right yet, perhaps somebody’s coming at it from a completely different angle and I think if we encourage cross teams, lots of discussion, if we capture people’s different learning styles, like people who like, who are more kinesthetics, they like something practical to do, people who are visual, people who are verbal, if we incorporate this into our communication, I think it just starts making our communication richer and I think as well, if we do start having more fun in the work place, I know we say yes, we must have water cooler moments and fun activities, I’m not talking about that, I’m more talking poles, white boards, stuff like that, which is more creative, I think what it starts doing is it takes the brain out of that fight flight response, and it starts us communicating in a whole different way and that helps us with our communication with our stakeholders, suppliers, customers within and outside the organization and also gets the emphasis away necessarily from insular, but also starts positioning the company as to what is our wider purpose in the community. What do we stand for? And so I think it is a bit about individuals, then looking at internal mixing of talents, different ways of communicating in a more creative way, harnessing all our learning styles and then what is our purpose not an inward, but outward and recognizing that other people may be right and I think this is where inclusivity diversity really stands at its core is realizing we are just different in every shape or form and that’s great too, that’s going to in a long run, make our organization more competitive.
00:20:50 Tesse: Yeah, you’ve really given a lot of practical things there, I love the idea of introducing more creative pieces, you know, as we are kind of rounding up on this kind of stress burnout tips, or that you have any other reflections, you’d like to share.
00:21:09 Desiree: Stress and burnout is very prevalent, let’s realize that not everybody admits that. So you may see somebody who is on the path to burnout or has already been burntout, don’t turn a blind eye. We’ve all got a responsibility towards our fellow employee to help them turn a voice can make a big difference, in how somebody feels, don’t assume, you know, what somebody’s circumstances are or what they’re feeling. Start with a gentle turn of voice and hopefully somebody will open up to you more, so that would be my first step, the second is, make sure that we have some mechanism in our organization for somebody to be able to talk to people outside the organization, I hear from a lot of people that they don’t necessarily want to talk to anybody in their team because of that judgment factor and then thirdly, remember that we do all suffer from saboteurs. They can be very historic, but there can also be a risen from bad experiences at work, which are genuine things that have resulted in us feeling burnt out so let’s not be afraid to tackle that and stand up for ourselves and believe in ourselves and really realize that the workplace now is a rich tapestry of a myriad of opportunities where you can work in a variety of ways from anywhere in the world, so actually this is a real pivotal point for us to start thinking of work as not a place, but it’s actually a mindset.
00:22:41 Tesse: Wow, work, not as a place, but in mindset, that is really a big paradigm shift. We know your a value and your treasure to us and to other people who are supporting, we want to share your treasure with those people, so where do you hang out? What are your social media handles? Where can people find you?
00:23:02 Desiree: Thanks so much Tesse and Paula, you’re an absolute treasure to me too and your knowledge and expertise is wonderful, and it’s lovely to be here on this forum.So my company is Crest Coaching and HR. So my website is crest coaching and I deal with individuals on self-sabotage and burnout and then obviously as an HR specialist, I deal with leaders, their teams so I have a variety of products. I’m on LinkedIn as Desiree Anderson and I also have an ebook that I wrote recently called ” From Burnout to Brilliance”; and if anybody wants that I’ve given Tesse, I think that the link to that, but also if they arrive on my landing page on and sign up there, I will send them that and that has five self coaching exercises that are very practical to help you right now, if you feel that you first want to explore before you approach anybody, but honestly, very happy to talk to anybody and help them on a one-to-one level so if you feel anything upset as it resonated, do get in touch and I’d be glad to have a conversation.
00:24:11 Tesse: Fabulous! Paula?
00:24:13 Paula: Thank you so much, Desiree this has been a learning experience, I was about to say I learn every day, but if anyone has been following the podcast is they realize, I say that all the time so this has been a learning experience would be my new phrase, but I love, something that I just can’t stop thinking of is your definition of, oh, what you said, empathy could be defined as if maybe that other person may be right, I think that’s awesome that in itself can, it can change our mindsets. The other thing I’m going to take away from this is that the workplace is more than a workplace, it’s a mindset, I love that, I love that, so thank you so much for being on “Tessetalks”
00:25:02 Desiree: Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.
00:25:06 Paula: Tesse?
00:25:06 Tesse: Excellent, I just am stunned and that doesn’t usually happen.
00:25:13 Paula: But that’s true, she’s never, never speechless and stunned, she’s right.
00:25:22 Desiree: I love it, yeah.
00:25:26 Paula: All right, so I’m going to go into the outro and then we can talk after that. To our amazing audience, thank you so much for tuning in and please head over to apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else where you listen to podcasts and click subscribe to “Tessetalks”. If you like what you just heard from Desiree, please write us a Raving review and if you have any questions or topics that you’d want us to cover related to leadership or governance, send us a note. Remember your notes can be personal or professional and if you’d like to be a guest on “Tessetalks”, please head over to to apply. Thanks again, Desiree, I enjoyed this.
00:26:17 Desiree: So did I. Thank you.