Heriot Brown

As part of our community well-being events series, we invited Lisa-Marie to host some sessions on Burnout. They were really insightful so she kindly agreed to share some of her top tips below too! For more information on the community, please contact [email protected]

Appointed to the C-Suite at just 33 years old, Lisa-Marie Sikand’s career was on the fast-track. As a Chief Marketing Officer of a global elite law firm, she was flying high, enjoying the opportunities of a successful commercial career managing international teams and working with the firm’s leaders to develop and execute BD & marketing strategies in highly competitive and fast-moving markets. She became known for her straight-talking practical advice, warmth and ability to get results and things done to a high standard. She was, to the outside world, flying high – until she came crashing down.

Following a series of life-changing events, including burnout, she redesigned her life. She now runs a multi-disciplinary coaching and consulting practice, Soulitude7, working with leaders, founders and teams to achieve their commercial goals and harness the wellbeing revolution as a performance lever. Through strategic coaching, mentoring, workshops and retreats, she helps executives, and businesses to achieve healthy high performance and create sustainable commercial success.

We asked her to write about burnout – something we are seeing leaders cite more and more as the reason for their ill health and resignations – and share her advice and recommendations to recognise when you might be pushing yourself too far.

What is burnout?

It’s a crushing, multi-faceted, chronic workplace-related stress that can lead to physical, emotional and mental exhaustion. It’s a modern phenomenon and particularly prevalent in professional services, with 2/3rds of the lawyers have experienced burnout according to the IBA’s Wellbeing Taskforce 2021 report, with trends continuing to this date with the rise .

Several factors contribute to burnout in professional services. These include:

· High-pressure and demanding environments, leading to feelings of anxiety, stress and overwhelm.

· Lack or little control over your work and where roles and responsibilities are unclear, and lacking purpose, leading to frustration, helplessness and resentment.

· Long hours and tight turnaround times: Lawyers often put in (way) more than 50 hours per week, leading to fatigue, stress and decreased productivity.

· Poor work-life integration: Presenteeism prevails, creating difficulty in balancing work and personal matters, leading to feelings of disconnection, unfulfillment and exhaustion.

Signs of burnout

Here are some questions to ask yourself or to consider when spotting burnout in your teams:

· Do you need to keep pushing yourself, ignoring your intuition and others’ calls to pace yourself?

· Have you lost perspective on what truly matters? Are minor details now giant?

· Do you prefer to isolate yourself, as connection feels burdensome?

· Are you neglecting your own needs, as everyone needs you?

· Are you feeling empty, irritable, or anxious, switching between numb and excessively worrying?

· Do you fantasise about running away – remote island, anyone?

The effects of burnout can be different from one person to the other, and can present in several physical ways:

· Low mood, energy and disconnection

· Head and body aches

· Fatigue

· Digestive issues

· Poor sleep

· Anxiety

Burnout is destructive

Burnout has many negative consequences for individuals and their employers, including physical, psychological and occupational:

· Reduced productivity: Colleagues who are burned out are less productive and effective, affecting their performance and contribution.

· Health problems: Burnout can lead to several health problems, including anxiety, high blood pressure, weight loss or gain and depression.

· Increased absenteeism: Colleagues who are burned out are more likely to take sick days and miss work.

· High turnover: Colleagues who are burned out are more likely to leave their jobs, resulting in loss of knowledge, talent and, ultimately affecting the employer’s brand.

Leading research from consulting powerhouses, AON, McKinsey and Deloitte, evidence the business benefits of employee wellbeing, with Deloitte suggesting a 5:1 return on mental health investment, yet most strategies overly focus on sticking plaster initiatives of remedial actions. And as good as they may be, initiatives won’t outrun poor organisational design, a toxic culture, sub-optimal organisational leadership and a fixed mindset. Conscious modern leaders, and holistic wellbeing programmes recognise that personal wellbeing is the ultimate lever for healthy high, performance and responsible business.

Colleagues with high levels of wellbeing are:

1. Happier

2. More engaged

3. Loyal

4. More profitable

Getting it right is crucial, for individuals, business and society.

Ways to prevent burnout in professional services

Below are some tips for creating workplaces and cultures that mitigate or minimise burnout in your teams:

· Challenge outdated belief and workplace myths to find new healthier ways of working aligned with your firm’s culture. Embrace guidelines – set your cultural tone.

· Creating a supportive work environment: Creating and providing yourselves and employees with the resources they need to succeed, such as fair, clear and open communication, trust, respect and support, building out to include training, development and flexible working options.

· Setting boundaries: Between work and personal lives, meaning empowering others to work their way and achieve the task, working reasonable hours, taking regular breaks including holidays, and disconnecting from work. It’s a fallacy that you are irreplaceable. Someone else will replace you on that matter, tomorrow.

· Managing stress: Finding healthy ways to avoid and manage stress, including task prioritisation, hydration, nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques and seeking support in different forms – from process improvements, outsourcing domestic chores, to working with a trainer, coach or therapist.

· Being a role model by leading well with living better, because you fundamentally live by your values and believe and advocate that wellbeing drives performance.

Ways to stop burnout before the whispers turn to screams:

· Acknowledge what’s happening – what you resist persists.

· Respect yourself and others. Revisit priorities and review workloads to determine what’s realistic. You are not a machine.

· Start with focusing on the basics. Fresh air. Nutritious food. Good Sleep. Staying hydrated. Movement. These principles underpin general health.

· Explore your mindset. Is my thinking working for me? How else might I look at this? What can others see that I am avoiding?

· Seek support. There is immense value in objective, professional help. Coaching supports individuals and teams to increase their self-awareness, performance, effectiveness and wellbeing.


Founder Lisa-Marie Sikand is a C-Suite professional, subject matter expert in leadership, business development and professional services, ICF accredited executive coach, thought leader and impactful public speaker.

She created the Get Out of Your Own Way®️ framework to support high-achieving professionals to consciously develop as sustainable self-leaders. She runs leadership coaching programmes for senior executives who want to lead themselves and others to healthy high performance.

Get in touch with Lisa-Marie [email protected]

+44 7878 55 638 www.soulitude7.co.uk