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Rosalyn Palmer Transformational Coach and Therapist

Recorded: Thursday 22nd October 2020

As the world of work continues to evolve amidst the pandemic, the demands and expectations placed on business leaders are arguably higher than ever before. As a result, some are experiencing burnout as they lead their teams and organisations through this difficult time.

So today we’re joined by Transformational Wellbeing Coach, Rosalyn Palmer, who is here to share her expert advice to help those leaders who are feeling burned out, establish some balance in their busy working lives.


1. To begin with, please could you introduce yourself to our listeners?


(01:05) So as you say, I’m Rosalyn Palmer and I’m a Transformational Therapist and Coach. I’m qualified as an advanced Rapid Transformational Therapist, which combines clinical hypnotherapyCBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and psychotherapy. I’m also a clinical hypnotherapist and I’m an NLP based coach, so I offer client therapy and coaching in a combination.

I’m also an emotional wellbeing expert on a local radio show and I have a newspaper column. I’m an author on my own of an award-winning self-help book Reset, and I’m also a contributing author to three number one, Amazon bestselling self-help books as well. So, I have a background in marketing and communications, and I use those skills to really communicate emotional wellbeing in a way that is accessible and understandable to people.

2. Now, why is burnout a topic you’re particularly passionate about?


(02:20) Well, I have been there myself and I like to call my go-to client ‘burnt out Barbara’ or ‘burnt out Bob’. That is my client avatar and I’m so good with those clients because it absolutely was the blueprint of my former existence.

So as I mentioned briefly, I have a background in PR and marketing and in the nineties I ran an award-winning PR company in London and in the year 2000, I sold it and I sold my eight bedroom house in London and I was a millionaire and I moved to the Bahamas. And I absolutely thought I’d got the icing on the cake and everything, and yet I hadn’t, I’d put so much effort in for many years and really not taken care of myself in the way that I now advocate and help my own clients that although I thought I got away with it, dodged a bullet, and just about hung on by my fingernails, my life effectively imploded in the following years. And cancer came along, divorce, breakdown in relationships and really a complete loss of me, myself, my identity, and pretty much everything I had.

And so, it was a catastrophic burnout. And once you’ve been in that place, you are absolutely determined that you will never ever go there again. And so I work with people now to really head them off at the pass because, it gives me no pleasure in seeing other high performing leaders, pay that price and go to that place, and burnout in our own uncertain difficult times is more prevalent than ever before.

Well, thank you for being so candid and sharing that with us Rosalyn. We’re definitely speaking to the right person today in discussing how leaders can go from feeling burnt out to establishing some balance in their lives.

3. Now it seems clear that leaders around the world are busier than ever before, which could be causing them to burn out. Before we really get into this topic, could you define what we mean by the term burnout and maybe expand upon the common signs that someone may be burnt out?


(04:44) We talk about burnout and I suppose a lot of people think, “Oh, it’s when I’m exhausted and I’m absolutely got nothing else left”, but really it goes to a much deeper physiological level than that, because of our wiring, because of our caveman brains, where we have parts of our brains, such as a limbic amygdala, we are wired in such a way that emotions, feelings, the chemicals that come from all the stress that we are constantly putting ourselves under, actually have a really incredibly detrimental physical and emotional effect on us.

So, it can lead to really serious dis-ease; disease. In my case, the cancer absolutely no doubt about it, that although there were other factors clearly mine was very much, I believe because of an unrelenting ten years of stress, which will not lead to a great physical state.

So, burnout in a proper medical term is the body as I said, we are ruled by the limbic amygdala, the part of our brain that means that we survive. It’s the caveman part; I’m going to survive, I can only do one of three things if I’m threatened, I’m going to fight, flight or freeze. And that was a phenomenal strategy for bringing us to where we are today and for the survival of our species over thousands of years. Oh, look, there’s a saber tooth tiger, I’m either going to fight it, I’m either going to run away or I’m going to freeze and bob down and hope it doesn’t notice me, and it’s a very effective strategy.

The trouble is when we get stressed, so when your boss calls you in and goes, “We need to have a chat”, or worse than that they go, “We need to have a chat on Friday” or one of your employees who you, as the leader are dependent on or stakeholders or shareholders, those things can put you under enormous stress. And that stress releases cortisol in the body just as if it really were a physical threat, like a saber tooth tiger, and the body gets flooded with it. And of course, that was effective for getting you to run away or do the other actions, but now you just flood your body with it, and it has a detrimental physical effect within your body. That stress, that cortisol, those coursing around your blood are terrible.

Also, we have, what’s called the vagal nerve. It’s the highway between the brain and the stomach and all those ancient people who said, “Oh, I’ve got a gut feeling. I feel it in my stomach.” The stomach effectively is the second brain, they’ve discovered the vagal nerve and it directly links the two. A good Vagal tone or having this healthy is absolutely key to the parasympathetic system within the body and having good vagal tone and having your parasympathetic system in a way that is really balanced, really measured, really good, affects every single organ in the body. And so when that’s out of kilter, when that’s in burnout or out of balance, that can have an effect not just on your mental wellbeing and how you feel when you get overwhelmed, potentially depressed, but it also can have a physiological effect on every single organ of the body. You can end up with terrible upset stomach, potentially stomach ulcers and even worse things such as I believe where I went myself. So, it’s important to understand that burnout can affect you both mentally and physically, and it will be very detrimental.

Thanks, that was a very clear definition of burnout and as you say, what it can really mean for people both mentally and physically.

4. Do you think that for some being busy is almost a badge of honour? That if they’re seen to be busy, then they will automatically be seen as valuable, and do you think that this might be even truer as we’ve progressed through the pandemic?


(09:08) I do, and I think that that’s always been the case really within a lot of industries and a lot of businesses, being seen to be busy, being seen to be on it. I’m the one who can juggle more plates than anybody else, it has been a badge of honour.

I do also happily see and believe and understand that in maybe the last twenty years, that people really understand the damage that can have, and that it can be counterproductive. It’s not about being busy or being seen to be busy, it’s about being effective. It’s about doing the right work rather than being seen to be the one who’s at the office and at the desk for the longest period of time.

And I think we have much improved attitudes towards mental wellbeing and wellness at work and all of those important areas that are being talked about and supported more than being saved and chained to your desk and being seen to be the one who can be busier than anybody else, I hope isn’t valued as much.

But I think there is a tendency, particularly when people are scared, particularly when we are in uncertain times, they may be uncertain about their future, the future of the company, they may be having to make unpalatable choices if they’re a leader about people being made redundant or changes to make in their business, these are all quite difficult things to do. There is a tendency to then to want to be seen to be the one that’s indestructible and leading it. So, I think it can be a badge or seen as a badge of honour. I don’t think it’s a good badge of honour, but I think there’s a tendency in times of stress and uncertainty that people might fall back into that behaviour, but I would absolutely advocate against it.

I think leaders must set the example that I will switch my laptop off at five o’clock or whenever it is acceptable to do. The example that weekends are for my family, weekends are for my well-being or whatever is right within the context of your work environment, but where you are showing that you have a life and that you respect your life, your wellbeing, the wellbeing of your family and everything else, that’s dear to you as much as that business, that sets the tone for the organisation. So, yes, I think there’s a tendency to have it as a badge of honour. And I would really advocate that people don’t.

5. So how can leaders establish a balanced level of busy-ness?


(11:52) I think that’s brilliant question because years ago I would go on courses and people would go, “So the antidote to all of this busy-ness is we’re going to go and be completely Zen and people opted out of what we call the rat race. And I myself, lived in The Bahamas for five years. So, I know what that felt like walking down the beach most days, and parts of it were glorious, but other parts of it, you take yourself with you.

So, I think the important thing is, leaders and really successful people tend to be highly driven individuals, they tend to be people who can really do wonderful things. And so, I don’t think it’s practical to say, “Stop being busy because you’re going to get burnt out and just be Zen.” So, you must be balanced busy, that’s the key. You can be busy, but with the balance that I’m talking about repeatedly. So, it’s about being busy, but it’s about being effective, it’s about being driven and it’s about creating balance that underpins that all the time, and that balance is both mental and physical.

6. And do you think that effective delegation is a key part of this?


(13:06) It is absolutely. I think, effective and fair delegation. So, you’re not just dumping, but also effective delegation is brilliant because you’re also bringing other people on, you’re sharing.

I spoke to a great management guru recently who uses all the analogy of the Peloton, of the Tour de France, that the Peloton are all there to support each other. Your individuals, but you come together as a team. And sometimes somebody is in the slipstream and somebody’s at the front a bit like when geese fly in formation, they keep swapping over and a different one goes to the front because that’s the hardest place to be and you’re the leader and the others come in the slipstream, but they’re constantly shuffle that around.

So, delegation is good, both up and both down. It’s good because, you don’t want to get overwhelmed with too much and if you do things will fall, things will not get done. You will not be an effective leader, an effective boss, you will not be adding value to your organisation, shareholders, and your employees. And delegation is a way of bringing other people on, so I think more than ever before, it’s crucial to have good delegation skills.

Well, I completely agree with you on those points. I think it’s so important for leaders to remember that they don’t have to do it all on their own and that they should utilise the resources of their teams.

7. Now, do you think imposter syndrome, which for the sake of clarity is when an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments in fear of being seen as a fraud, is playing a part in some leaders feeling that they need to be seen to be busy in order to prove their value to themselves and to others. And how might this be contributing to burnout?


(14:54) I think it’s contributing massively. And as I say, my go-to clients, tend to be six figure earning CEOs, and there’s very few of them that do not have some issues with imposter syndrome, even the ones who are in very elevated positions.

And as you say, imposter syndrome, the trouble with it is that even though you probably are incredibly highly functioning, you’re probably regarded as effective, and in fact, you probably are effective. You deep inside, feel you’re going to get caught out, you deep inside feel inadequate, you feel incompetent and the evidence around you, of how well you’re doing and how high regard you’re held in, doesn’t change that feeling within you.

So again, in times of uncertainty. And we are in a time of collective global uncertainty like never before, every time we think we’ve got a new normal, the new normal goes out the window, firms all took people to remote home working, they got used to it, and then they started to bring them all back again and then maybe you go into a local lockdown and everybody’s back again.

So, there’s massive uncertainty which is very bad for our physiological and psychological wellbeing, because it causes stress, because the brain likes to know what’s certain. One of the rules of the mind is that it likes to know what is certain and what is familiar because familiar equals safe. And so, if you’re already prone to feeling inadequate, if you’re already prone to feeling that you’re going to get caught out more than before, you’re going to up the ante on that. So, you’ll be trying even harder, perhaps the badge of honour that we’ve talked about and even more than that, you’ll probably be feeling bad about yourself, bad about who you really are.

Now I read a study by Dr. Valerie Young and she named some of the kinds of imposter syndrome because they’re really based around competence types. And so, you’ve got the one that we’re probably most familiar with, which is the perfectionist and the perfectionist is, if I don’t do it right, it’s not good enough. I must absolutely do it. And they can be very poor managers because they’ll tend to micromanage everybody around them. It’s like you’re not doing it like I do it. You know, I do it to this level. Don’t do it. So, it’s also stressful for them because they are constantly checking up on everybody. And it’s not much fun for the people working or reporting to them.

And then you have, the kind of Superman or Superwoman is the one who literally at the weekend, I’ve worked with people. I worked with a very high-ranking lawyer who told me that she would get up on a Saturday and cry because it felt so empty. She didn’t feel she had any purpose; she didn’t know who she was when it was the weekend. She hated the weekend, absolutely hated it. She had a stressful job, and there were all sorts of things that weren’t right about it, but she felt she had no identity outside of the work because she sort of was a self-appointed superwoman and gained her self-esteem by what she did within the job.

Sometimes you have people who are just actually super naturally gifted at things and they’re brilliant and they’re the one that you can always rely on and they’re really genius at something. But again, that maybe isn’t very flexible because maybe they’re used to excelling without much effort in certain ways. And then because of the changing world, we live in, that certain way isn’t available anymore or isn’t doable anymore.

You have people who maybe are very reliant on themselves, the buck stops with me. I think this was me, I think I was a bit of a perfectionist, but I also was a kind of a soloist. I never grew up really thinking there was a safety net, and so, everything was down to me, I’ve got to do it all. And they’re terrible at asking for help because they see asking for help as a sort of weakness or failure.

And then you have the expert and they’re just maybe people who perhaps come from a very academic family background where they’re held in high regard about being an expert. And of course, we need experts more than any time before, but they can often be very highly competitive with each other. So, all of these tend to be traits that lead to imposter syndrome. And what imposter syndrome does is that person gets a bigger dichotomy, a bigger gap between how they truly are regarded and how they feel about themselves. And it becomes more to the point where often people who really have imposter syndrome will effectively crash and burn.

8. We’ve already discussed how busy these times are for business leaders. So, how can they take time out of their schedules to look after their mental health? And why do you think this is important?


(20:16) So, if you look at coaches who work with elite performance athletes, they clearly develop mindset, their nutrition, their training schedule, but I’ve seen it where people are asked, “What do you think differentiates elite athletes from an ordinary person?” And people will always say, “Oh, it’s the mindset, the training, the physical ability they were born with”. No, the big thing that they have in their schedules is rest. All athletes, peak performance athletes, high performance athletes, footballers, you name it, they have rest and recovery literally written into their schedules because they know they can’t go all the time. They have bouts of it, and then they have recovery time.

And when we’re kids and we’re at school, most lessons are usually about forty minutes long. And that’s based on the fact that that’s probably about as much time as you can pay attention before you need a break. So, bearing in mind, kids at one end performance athletes at the other end, we get into jobs, particularly as leaders and we just go and go and go. And we do crazy things like now, we’re maybe not commuting, and we go, yes, I’ve got that two hours extra every day, I’m going to do more work. And that was me you know. You start looking at your emails on a Saturday, you eat into all those boundaries.

So, here’s how they can stay balanced and stay well:

  • Every hour, maybe they don’t work forty minutes and then take twenty minutes off, that’s maybe not feasible, but literally five or ten minutes every hour in between every meeting.
  • For every Zoom meeting, don’t schedule your diary so you’ve got one from three until four, and then the next one. Take a break, five minutes, ten minutes.
  • Weekends, sacrosanct unless absolutely, your company is firefighting. And of course, you’re the boss, the buck stops with you. You’ve got to do it if that’s the case, but don’t make it a habit, do it when it’s necessary, but don’t make it a habit. Treat the weekends as importantly, or whenever it is, you have your breaks.
  • Holidays, that’s been difficult this year to have a holiday. But take a holiday, take a week off. Absolutely spend time decompressing, having time for you, time in nature, time with your family, all the things that nourish you in all those ways.

Think of the performance athletes, rest, and recovery. And so every hour, a little bit of a rest and recovery, every evening, rest and recovery, every day, rest and recovery, and then the weekends and then the holidays and the best leaders, the most high performing ones are the ones who really get that right.

That makes sense. It may not always seem easy to carve out the time to look after your mental health, but clearly, it’s vital.

9. Now on the topic of mental health, in recent years something I’ve noticed is that the stigma around talking about mental health seems to be decreasing. How can leaders display vulnerability and open up to their team members if they are feeling burnt out or too busy. And what do you think are the benefits of doing so?


(23:44) It absolutely has to come from the top to foster and create a culture where people absolutely feel heard and that they are able to be supported in their mental wellbeing. Again, each leader is going to feel differently about how vulnerable they feel they want to be.

I myself, when I was high-performing in PR and then I was Head of Marketing for a charity, I didn’t really talk about my mental health issues even though there were times I’d been on antidepressants for years, and there were times that I barely thought I was hanging on by my fingernails. I just did not feel it would be very career enhancing and I came up through the eighties, nineties and noughties, times have changed, thank goodness.

So, I’m not saying that they have to do a massive revelation of the soul and tell everybody their innermost feelings but set the tone by showing the courage to be vulnerable. There’s a book by a woman called Benet Brown, which is called Daring Greatly and in it, she basically says that being vulnerable, open and transparent is the greatest courage of all time. And I know that because even when my own book came out two years ago, I spent the weekend before it was published, pretty much crying. And I rang my publisher up and asked them if they would please hold the production of it. Because I realised that for the first time in my life, I’d really laid myself bare. And I knew there were people who would have known me in agency life and all sorts of walks of life, who would be quite surprised to read that I’d been depressed and lots of other things, because I’d effectively hidden behind a really good mask.

And I suddenly felt super exposed and it wasn’t very comfortable, but very soon after it was published, I got feedback. Somebody on Twitter who I don’t even know, but she’s quite a high profile, sent me a direct message and went “I read your book, I’ve been bulimic for fifteen years, and I’ve just admitted it to my husband and I’m going to get help for it”. And I thought, “Wow, if me telling my story, if me being vulnerable has just helped that one person, I’m feeling pretty good about that.” And there’s almost not a week that goes by that that that doesn’t happen.

So, they do need to be vulnerable, they do need to set the time, but it doesn’t have to be the biggest revelation in life. It could be let’s all meet for virtual coffee. I was talking about this earlier today, it’s my new thing. Let’s have a time where we just come together, it’s not about work. We don’t get those chances to know what’s going on in each other’s lives. Let’s do that, at five o’clock, we’re going to have a happy hour and everybody turns up and we’re going to, we’re not talking about work at all, we’re just going to talk about our friends, families, and what makes us tick. And then the leader is going to obviously show some vulnerability like, “Well, I’ve been finding it really difficult these last few weeks.” There were days I was not sleeping as well as I normally do, and I discovered that switching all electronics off an hour before bed, that doing some exercise before bed and reading certain things or listening to this meditation or mindfulness or hypnotic tape has absolutely changed how I feel this last week. Now that’s being vulnerable and setting the tone, it’s also getting everybody their permission to then open up themselves.

I’m glad that as a society, we’re now starting to reframe vulnerable as brave.

10. And what about self-awareness and self-reflection, what would you say are the benefits of these? Do you have any practical tips for our listeners to help them weave this into their daily routines amongst their busy schedules?


(27:44) I think self-awareness is crucial, but often if again, you are one of these very high performers. Often what makes people successful is being driven in those ways, we highlighted some of them before. The perfectionists, they can be often catastrophic thinkers, “Oh, this is going to go wrong if I don’t do everything”. They can have all or nothing thinking, they can be very black and white, which doesn’t make for a very happy body, brain, and emotional place to be within your own skin but it often makes for a very effective and highly performing leader.

So, self-reflection, and self-awareness is important, but I think it can come gradually. I think self-acceptance is the first stage, and self-love and self-nurture is absolutely the starting point for that because a lot of even successful people don’t even entirely like themselves that much, so it really has to start with that. So, I think the self-acceptance is about, this is me, I do the best I can with the resources I have and the circumstances I have, and I have phenomenal coping skills and okay, I don’t always get it right, but I absolutely learn from it, I share with others, I build and I grow on that and, I nurture myself. I make myself a human being and not just a human doing by nurturing myself, cognitively how I think physically, what I do, I get out in nature, I eat well et cetera, and spiritually and psychologically. I listen to great uplifting Ted talks, motivational recordings, or I listen to something that’s harp music and very quieting, or I do a meditation, I’ve learned to meditate. So, I think the self-reflection is very much about self-acceptance, self-love, and self-nurturing.

Of course, we all need to have a degree of self-reflection but I think often when you’re in a difficult situation, you are a leader and you are the one who maybe is ironically galvanised by some of those not great things that make you a great leader often, that feeling of catastrophic thinking, all or nothing thinking, or I must get everything right. Being entirely self-reflective and really getting it right is probably tricky, but learning to be self-loving and loving yourself, learning to be self-nurturing, learning to value yourself, all of those will absolutely take you to a place where you can build upon it.

Those are some very practical examples, Rosalyn, thank you. And of course, burnout amongst leaders likely to also impact the team members that they manage. So, taking moments in the day just to reflect and be present is a healthy habit to start integrating both personally and professionally.

11. Now, as many of us continue to work remotely or in a hybrid way, some are finding it hard to distinguish between their work and personal lives. How do you think this is fuelling the risk of burnout in leaders in particular?


(31:01) I think whenever the boundary is blurred between your work and personal life, it invariably has a detrimental effect on both. Again, I deal with a lot of leaders and high-performing individuals and they are often incredibly successful at work and their personal lives are a car crash, and they really are paying a very big price personally in relationships, often their family because of that success. And obviously it can work the other way around as well.

I write in my book that I had a client; he ran one of the leading agencies in London, in the nineties. We had lunch and he was in tears and I’d never seen him in a state like that. And he was a very high performing well-regarded individual on the front cover of Campaign and Marketing Week a lot of the time. And he said that his son who I think was five or six had come home and he’d been asked to draw a picture saying “My Daddy” and he’d drawn a picture with his father with his back to him and his mobile phone to his ear. And he said in that moment, his heart broke and he thought, this is how my son sees me.

And again, I also mentioned in my book, that when I decided I really needed to sell my PR company was my own six-year-old son. On a Friday, I came home and realised I had not seen him awake since Monday. And that was what they call an AHA moment where this is not right. What is the point of being a mother if I don’t even see my child during the week? Because I was getting up at six and going out before he was awake, he had a nanny. I was getting home at eight, nine, ten and eleven and he was already in bed. It was like this is not what motherhood and relationships are supposed to be about.

So, you really can pay a price one way or the other and it’s too high a price to pay. So, the important thing again, I’m going to come back to the busy balance. It’s about the balance, it’s about getting those things, right so that work doesn’t absolutely dictate and mean that you have no decent private life. And so that your private life also you have the understanding, particularly if you’re the CEO again, and times are tough. There are times you’re going to have to take those calls. There are times you maybe going to have to work and push on through the week.

So, my philosophy for that, that I developed kind of the hard way and now share with everybody is what I call the five F’S. So again, it’s so easy to remember because I think things must be relatable and I think we can all get overwhelmed with too much good advice. And then when we’re feeling bad, we’re like, what was that good advice? What was that book that told me? So, this is a simple and practical way to remember the balance. And so, you think about your hand, you have five fingers and you have five f’s. And so, a balanced life is a life where you have a balance and every day check in and think, have I addressed one of these or all of these? And if you haven’t, because there are some days you’re going to have to push on through, you think, how soon am I going to address this? And the five F’s are:

  1. Faith
  2. Fitness
  3. Friends
  4. Family
  5. and finance.

And if you think about somebody like John Paul Getty, people thought he was wealthy and rich, but he didn’t have any faith, he had no friends and his family, none of them loved each other and they were fighting over the inheritance and everything. He was not a fit man, very unfair in those mind and body. Yes, he had lots of finance, but he did not have the other four, so, he had one out of five.

Mother Theresa arguably didn’t have the finance, although she was able to channel lots of money through her efforts to raise funds for people. Friends, she had a global commitment of friends, all the other sisters, all the nuns, everybody who loved her, she was a friend with princess Diana. Family, effectively, those sisters and her sisterhood was her family and the poor, she treated them like a family. Fitness, I think she lived to be a hundred and she was articulate and, on the ball, right to the end. And faith, I think they’re going to literally make her a Saint. So, there’s an incredibly wealthy woman.

And the way to keep that balance is every day I check in on that, I just get my hands out and I go, right, what have I done today?

  • Fitness? Right, good, I did Pilates, but maybe I need to relax. I might just read a book for half an hour.
  • Have I checked in with my friends, have I been a friend? I know I’m going to set a virtual coffee up with my friend, Julie and let’s jump on that.
  • Family, have I connected with my nearest and dearest and my loved ones? Not everybody loves their family, but that’s your actual tribe, that’s who’s important to you.
  • Finance, what have I done to enhance my career? What have I done to bring my finance in and how am I handling my finance? And as you get more finance and I’ve been in that position, how am I paying it forward, how am I doing good with this? Money is energy, how am I moving that?
  • And then faith, what have I done to really check in on my faith. For me, a walk-in nature, just sitting quietly and just watching things. You know, it’s a secret, but now everybody’s going to know occasionally I do hug the odd tree.

I find that incredibly grounding. And so, I think that for me is just a philosophy you can live by, you can be in the office and live by it. You can be at home and live by it.

The five F’s. That’s very simple, easy to remember and very practical. Thank you.

12. What are the signs that leaders can look out for to spot burnout within their teams? Presumably this is far more difficult for leaders to notice in this increasingly remote and hybrid working world.


(37:20) Yes. I’m trying to think of the word. Is it presenteeism or something? You know? So, when somebody is having that fear that if they’re not seen to be constantly present, they’re not doing their job.

Yes. Presenteeism, I think we’ve discussed it on some of our podcasts previously actually.

(37:35) Absolutely, I think that’s probably one of the big red flags. So back in the day when you were in the office and when you are in the office again, it’s the one who will still be there later than anybody else and is coming in at the weekend. But again, I suppose with all the monitoring of what’s going on, it’s the one who’s still on their computer, and sending, you can see when emails are sent. It’ll be the one who’s sending the email at five o’clock in the morning and then maybe eight o’clock in the evening. They’re clearly not setting healthy boundaries for themselves. So, I think that would be a very first one to spot.

I think obviously changes in behaviour. You know, if people are maybe coming on to Zoom or team conferences, and if you have a policy that you don’t have to put your camera on, but they seem to be constantly hiding behind their avatar. You know, why is that? They’re not wanting to be seen and wanting to be present, they’re not engaging any changes in that kind of behaviour. I mean, obviously not being able to be a socratic critical thinker, you want people within the organisation who are able to be balanced in that way to be asking good questions, to be making good decisions. Obviously, you want to head it off at the past before maybe they make a fundamentally big mistake that affects the bottom line of your organisation or your reputation.

And so, it is really spotting the clues along the way. I had members of staff who reached near burnout and I think, it would be things like not engaging in a normal way. Clearly the work would be suffering, maybe avoidance, a lot of avoidance. So again, it’s all behaviours that are trying to get them to help themselves, but not in a positive way.

13. And if leaders do recognise these signs of burnout within their teams? How should they go about addressing them?


(39:35) So I think we’ve covered quite a lot of them. I think they need to set the example first and foremost, they need to set the example that boundaries are good, boundaries are okay, we are an organisation that respects that you have a life outside of this business.

As a leader again, and I keep saying, unless it’s absolutely crucial, unless you’re kind of in a make or break, life or death scenario when of course you have to do it there and then, but don’t email that person on a Saturday and ask them a question, set a good example, create boundaries that you respect for yourself and you respect for other people. Set those boundaries again that’s showing their own vulnerability.

Turn up for that happy hour or that virtual coffee with everybody and talk about how you’ve been feeling. That could be maybe done if you don’t feel comfortable doing it in person, it can be done in the company newsletter or the company blog. It can be a blog about how I rediscovered the joy of baking. Again, I was talking to a very high performing client recently. She told me that she’s baking baguettes that are so good that her local deli wants to commission her, but she hasn’t got the time to make them, but she’s making them to such a standard. And she did that during lockdown as a kind of form of therapy and because at first, she had a little bit more time on her hands and now it’s a kind of a go-to mental wellbeing thing for her.

So, share that in the company intranet or blog or newsletter or whatever it is you do again. Set that example.

14. And building on this a little more. How can leaders incentivise as well as role model healthy behaviours to ensure that teams are also able to establish a good balance? And do you think this is becoming even more important in this new era of work?


(41:31) Absolutely, I think it must be seen as essential and it must be valued. So, you’re right, it must be incentivised, and obviously different companies will incentivise people in different ways. But I think being highly regarded and being rewarded for being an effective employee rather than, I’m here for the longer hours, but I get more done in short periods of time for being a good role model for others. I set boundaries, I stick by them, for doing what you say and saying what you do, for having integrity, values that people uphold, for being a team player if that’s indeed what you need to do and not tending to slip into one of those imposter syndrome or perfectionist syndromes, which you tend to come from the lone wolf or the perfectionist but actually being able to work within a team and support other people and support their work and actually forgive, even if it’s not perfect, as long as it clearly, isn’t detrimental to the type of business that you’re in.

All of these things can be incentivised and rewarded. So, you’re effectively incentivising and rewarding somebody for being an effective employee and for being a healthy employee for caring about their own mental and physical wellbeing. Clearly you can incentivise that by giving them – well it used to be reduced gym memberships, or maybe even gym facilities within your company – that might not be possible anymore. But I know somebody who runs a virtual choir and she’s running an actual choir and now it’s virtual choirs and companies are coming together or teams are coming together on Zoom and then having choir sessions, they’re having an hour of singing.

Now who would have thought it but we’re tribal people and we used to all get round campfires and sing together. Now I can just imagine there’s some leaders listening, going, no, it’s absolutely not happening within my organisation, we are not all getting together and singing, but these are community, connective team, tribal behaviours that actually now, more than ever are really important and again to show that that’s valued to incentivise people to do that. We’re incentivising you by something we’re going to give, but also incentivising and rewarding that you’re seeing within them, that they’re creating that balance.

The five F’s, how is your family? What do your friends think about this? Or we’re going to create a yoga class for everybody, why don’t you bring a family member or a friend along? Because we value your family members and your friends, we value our family members and our friends, so we want to value them in you. It’s taking all of this out and now, although it’s a difficult, challenging time, more than ever this is not only a necessity, but I think it’s a phenomenal opportunity for the more forward-thinking leaders to do.

15. And what impact will these kinds of behaviours have not only on the wellbeing, but also on the output of teams?


(44:44) Well, a healthy team is usually a very productive team. I know myself, if I’m not feeling great, if I’m below par, I probably don’t cognitively, think clearly and effectively and push on through as well. Physically, it absolutely affects your performance and whatever industry you’re in.

So, here’s why mental health has also been truly embraced in the last twenty years because a lot of mental health coaches and psychologists and people who go in and do organisational psychology and change and I myself do some of that, they were able to start demonstrating the effect that was having on the bottom line. In other words, we’ve done this, we’ve invested in this, but actually your sickness rates, your absentee rates have gone right down because people are happier, people are more motivated, people are healthier, both in body and mind.

And so good mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, actively and effectively improves your bottom line, and it’s the right thing to do. I’m in a place in my life now where I just think sometimes you just have to do what the right thing is and the truly great inspirational leaders I’ve met, the Ted Talks I watch and think, “Oh wow, I really wish I could meet that person or be in the room with them”, they have the integrity to do the right thing, to say what they’re going to do, to do what they’re going to say and to care about other people, and that starts with caring about themselves.

So, it’s a win-win because it will affect your bottom line positively because people will make better decisions, they’ll work better on their own, they’ll work more effectively in teams, less slip-ups will happen and less absenteeism will be experienced. But also, it’s just the right thing to do. And we’re in a very difficult world now with a lot of uncertainty, and if all the goodness will come from all the companies and the leaders, it will make the world a better place.

That’s a very positive note to nearly end on. Now, just before we do end, I wanted to say it’s been great having you on the podcast today and sharing your knowledge, your insights and your anecdotes. And I’m sure our listeners will find them both interesting and useful. So, thank you again for joining us.

16. I have one more question, and this is a question we ask all our podcast guests, what do you think are the three qualities that make a good leader? And do you think these qualities have changed since the beginning of the pandemic?


(47:31) I’m going to answer the second bit first, which I think, yes, they have changed from the pandemic because it isn’t business as usual or leadership as usual or anything as usual. And so, I think people are being seen and turning up in a different way.

I think the three qualities are:

  1. And as I say, you do what you say, you say what you do, and you’re being seen for it. You don’t hide behind either a self-imposed mask because you don’t feel good about yourself or you don’t feel authentic or you’ve got imposter syndrome, but also that you are transparent. I was the Head of Marketing for a charity and there used to be big debates about how transparent the end of year accounts should be in terms of where all the money went. And we just went for total transparency. It was like, if you’re going to give us your money and entrust us with your money and we’re going to help other people’s lives, we’re going to be completely transparent about that. So, I think transparency is key.
  2. I think tenacity. Of course, they are quite difficult times people need grit. I’ve met many people; I like to think I have a lot of grit. You know, sometimes you just have to say, I signed up for this and push on through.
  3. And I think the other thing is obviously creating that balance, having the five F’s. Really understanding that wealth and success isn’t just about money. That it’s about having that full balance and that will help not just yourself, but the world, your loved ones, your employees, and everybody.

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Rosalyn Palmer is a Transformational Coach and Therapist, author, columnist and broadcaster. She is UK based and has an international teletherapy private practice as an Advanced Rapid Transformational Therapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and award-winning coach.

Rosalyn is the wellbeing expert on radio show Girls Around Town and for The Newark Advertiser newspaper. She features regularly on podcasts and in many publications for her easy to understand mental health advice.

As author of the award-winning self-help book: ‘Reset! A Blueprint for a Better Life’ she shares many of her own former challenges as a stressed-out MD of a leading London PR agency and then offers practical advice for readers to create more balanced lives.  Rosalyn is now also a co-author of Amazon No.1 bestselling self-help books ‘Ignite Your Life for Women’, ‘Ignite Your Female Leadership’ and ‘Ignite for Female Changemakers’.

A member of the National Council of Psychotherapists; General Hypnotherapy Register & Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.

Formerly the MD/Founder of Award winning PR agency RPPR, Head of Marketing for an International charity and Head of Insight for a T&D company, and with an enviable CV from leading London agencies in the 80s and 90s, Rosalyn has grown from many challenging life experiences. This colours and tempers her writing, broadcasting and speaking.



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