How senior executives are impacted by lockdown

To address the growing public health crisis created by the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries around the world introduced drastic measures to reduce transmission of the virus. On 23 March 2020, the UK entered a period of lockdown, forcing many businesses to close their doors and millions of individuals to adapt their working practices and establish new professional and domestic routines.

At School for CEOs we wanted to understand how well these leaders had adapted to their new environments; whether their ability to lead their businesses through a crisis had been hindered during lockdown and whether they were at risk of suffering from emotional exhaustion.

While burnout is traditionally associated with long days at the office, it isn't limited to that scenario. The burnout syndrome is described as a progressive loss of idealism, energy and purpose as a result of work conditions. Had these changes in work conditions put senior leaders at risk of burnout?

Partnering with Dr Mioara Cristea from the Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, this study sought to understand what the psychological effect of lockdown has been on senior leaders, and what coping strategies they have drawn upon to support them through this period of disruption and prolonged ambiguity.

We are very grateful to all of our participants for their time and input which we hope in turn will support future leaders with the challenges of leadership through uncertain times.


Gemma Sole hosted a lunchtime webinar to share the findings of this research complemented by the insights and reflections of Dr Mioara Cristea and David Sole in a panel Q&A. Watch the webinar recording below.