meltdown at work

Is it ever ok to have a meltdown at work?

meltdown at work

So, you had to disappear into your office last week, shut the door before anyone clocked you and have a big cry. I know how you feel!

It’s rough being a leader when everyone expects you to deliver the goods, however you’re feeling. It may be that the buck simply stops with you, and sometimes you just need to scream, weep and shout at the top of your voice – ‘I can’t do this!’

I get it. I’ve certainly been there and I know my coaching clients have too – I’ve had two sector leaders lose it with me just in the last fortnight. (One of the things my clients appreciate is that it’s totally ok. The coaching space is a safe, not judgmental environment where they can say what needs to be said to get stuff out.)

But what happens when you just can’t keep it together at work. Is it ok, ever, as a senior leader to have a meltdown with your reports?

Here are my 5 top tips:

  1. Do your absolute best not to totally lose it with your team. Uncontrolled shouting, crying or ranting is not a good leadership look, however much someone or something has triggered you. It undermines confidence in you and you certainly don’t want to be modelling this kind of behaviour to others.
  2. But you really don’t have to be a robot leader. You are allowed to have feelings. Rather than playing out the feelings though, share with your team you’re having a bad day or that you’re not quite your usual self. In fact, showing up authentically like this helps create trust. If people don’t believe in you they won’t trust you. (Check out this new TED talk to hear more about why authenticity is so important, and what the other two pillars of trust are.)
  3. Get some time for yourself as soon as you can. Take yourself out of the situation with a short break, a walk, even a duvet day so you can look after your primary needs.
  4. Seek out support from peers, a coach/mentor or friends who understand so you can let off some steam and see things from a different perspective. It’s not your team’s responsibility to look after you, however much they like you.
  5. And remember – you’re only human. Everyone loses it every now and again!

Over to you

What do you do when you’re feeling the strain and in desperate need of a pressure release valve? Have you learnt how to recognise the signs so you can take steps to avoid a complete meltdown? I’d love to hear what’s worked for you,  so please do share in the comments below.

What next?

Could you do with a safe space to let off steam? If so, I’d love you to join the new group I’m setting up for leaders in the non-profit sector to get support with the day-to-day challenges they face. Drop me an email here if you’d like to know more.



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