Webinar Recap: Avoiding School Leadership Burnout

Baruti Kafele leads a discussion that focuses on how to do your job as a principal while maintaining a balanced personal life and avoiding burnout.

Baruti Kafele leads a discussion that focuses on how to do your job as a principal while maintaining a balanced personal life and avoiding burnout.
November 2018, Volume 42, Issue 3

Principals begin their year with fresh ideas, innovative programming, and creative solutions to current challenges. Then, demands appear from all directions and the focus is often blurred or even lost. With all the expectations, how can principals successfully fulfill their roles and responsibilities and maintain a balanced personal life while avoiding burnout? It’s not easy, but it is possible, says webinar presenter Baruti Kafele, education consultant at Principal Kafele LLC.

Thought Partnership

You’ve probably heard of thought leadership. But what about thought partnership? Kafele considers this concept essential in avoiding burnout. It’s pretty simple. You find “your person” professionally. Or for Friends fans, you find your lobster. Your work lobster. This is someone in your school who can:

  • Support you;
  • Be a sounding board;
  • Make you feel comfortable being vulnerable;
  • Empathize with you; and
  • Be trusted.

It’s someone who can recognize when you’re heading toward burnout and let you know, in a brutally honest way, if necessary, that you need to slow down, take a step back, and figure out a way to avoid it.

Avoiding burnout is complicated, but two great starting points are self-reflection and learning how to delegate.


Sports teams watch game film to improve. It’s critical to the success of a team. Now apply that to yourself as a leader. Carve out time, Kafele says, to just look at you. Then—and this is really important—do something about it. Teams change their game plans, and so can you.

If you find yourself working long hours just so people see you being present in your school and equate that to working really hard, you’re not alone. Perception is reality, so if your staff sees you at work all the time, they’ll perceive that you’re hard at work all the time, too. But it’s not realistic, and it’s often at the expense of your personal life. Leaving less time for yourself outside the school is a surefire way to lead to burnout, which causes you to be less productive at work. Note the cycle there. It’s a lose-lose situation for you and for your school.


You’ve probably heard of working smarter, not harder. That applies in the process of avoiding burnout. Part of working smarter means delegating tasks. You’ve put a team of talented, strong, passionate staff members in place at your school. Use them. Maximize your “human capital” in the school and empower staff members to more than just their job descriptions require.

For more tips on how to avoid school leadership burnout, watch the full webinar or download the presentation.

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