Recently, the headlines were about the former Zurich Insurance boss Martin Senn who in May 2016, committed suicide, six months after stepping aside from the company in December 2015. His death follows the suicide of Pierre Wauthier, who had been Zurich’s chief financial officer, in August 2013.
I came across an interesting article by Financial Times, which examines a few similar and related cases, where executives in Switzerland may have taken their own lives due to work related pressure and stress. In the article, experts point to psychological issues, emotional challenges, that are common among swiss business elites, especially for those in high hierarchies.- Of course such tragic incidents occur elsewhere around the globe too. Not just in Switzerland. We’ve heard stories about top bankers and management executives of notable companies commit suicide due to work related issues.
Work related issues not only cause general stress but can also lead to burnouts, especially among company executives. Some executives have encountered continious frustrations and difficulties, and have been trapped in a negative psychological situation to an extent of being hospitalizied for exhaustation.
Remember BMW’s chief executive Harald Krueger, who fainted just five minutes into his press conference, in September 2015 at the Frankfurt motor show? Although it’s unclear what triggered his collapse, experts say that such circumstances occur due to stress and pressure. And these can affect any one, from employees to senior executives.
How do you know you are suffering from burnout? An article by Harvard Business Review, describes a few identifiable characteristics-
(1) Chronic fatigue
(2) Anger at those making demands
(3) Self-criticism for putting up with the demands
(4) Cynicism, negativity, and irritability
(5) Sense of being besieged
(6) Hair-trigger display of emotions.
What can be done to help top managers to cope with such stressful situations?
“Hold On, Help Is On The Way”- (Whitney Houston ‘The Preacher’s Wife’ (1996))
Managing people can be stressful. Managers are expected to cope with a variety of employees, from the depressed, the rebellious, the self centered, the uncoperative including the malicious type. Managers have to be prepared for the pressures of having to deal with these kinds of personalites, and in turn balance those ‘conflicting personalities’ and create a motivated work team from them.- And that’s not so easy!
Justin Menkes, author of “Better Under Pressure,” discusses how CEOs can handle pressure without panic, and how they can cope with constant stress at the working place. (Here)
The American Psychological Association, also offers valuable information on how to cope with stress at the work place