Get All Access for $5/mo

The 10 Types Of Workaholics: How To Spot Your Type, Understand What's Driving You, And What To Do About It Understanding your emotional overdraft, and identifying the specific drivers behind your workaholic tendencies, can help you regain balance and improve your overall effectiveness.

By Andy Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


I've met many entrepreneurs who proudly declare they are "married to the job," "chained to their desks," or "perpetually busy." Like burnout, workaholism has become something of a badge of honor.

The 24/7 hustle is often seen as the only path to success, encouraging entrepreneurs and leaders to prioritize work above all else. They sacrifice time with family and friends, neglect physical health and mental wellness, and push themselves harder and harder.

The consequences? Decreased resilience, stress and deteriorating relationships. I refer to this as running up an "emotional overdraft"– where business successes are subsidized at the cost of personal resilience and well-being.

Understanding your emotional overdraft, and identifying the specific drivers behind your workaholic tendencies, can help you regain balance and improve your overall effectiveness.

There are ten drivers of an emotional overdraft- each of which can lead to workaholism. These drivers represent ways of thinking and behaving that can either support or diminish your impact in your business.

Overloading your thinking with these drivers impacts your performance as a leader by creating interference in your capacity to perform. Removing the interference allows your natural talents and abilities to shine through effortlessly. Understanding these drivers will help you manage your emotional overdraft and enhance your leadership effectiveness.


Driver: Trust

Entrepreneurs who score highly on the trust driver show up as, "I only trust myself; I don't trust others." This leads to micromanaging and reluctance to delegate, stifling team growth and innovation. Constantly worrying about whether work is being done to your standards, juggling too many balls, working late every night, and doing tasks that are other people's responsibility can be exhausting and demoralizing. This behavior drains your resilience and negatively impacts your well-being.

Solution: Delegate tasks, build trust through accountability and communication, hire for attitude, train well, and structure tasks without micromanaging.


Driver: Urgency

For entrepreneurs, the urgency driver leads them to feel that everything is immediate and urgent, often leading to stress and poor decision-making. We've all been in situations where the day starts to unravel, pulling us from one crisis to another. This constant state of urgency can make you feel like you're always acting on reflex, unable to properly solve problems, or think critically about your actions. It's a stressful way to live and work, often leading to health problems due to prolonged exposure to adrenaline. Moreover, it can demotivate your team and strain relationships at home as your constant state of urgency spills over into your personal life.

Solution: See urgency for what it really is: understand that what feels urgent is often self-created. Assess whether a situation truly requires immediate attention, or if it can be scheduled. Plan, establish robust processes, and regularly review business plans.


Driver: Expectation

When you expect to feel stressed a lot of the time, you're likely to explain it away as the natural lot of a leader. This mindset means you're not sensitive to the level of stress you're experiencing, which in turn means that you're not inclined to do anything about it. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Solution: Track stress levels, change your mindset, reframe failure, seek professional help, and prioritize self-care.

Related: To Expand, Or Not To Expand? 10 Factors To Consider Before Expanding Your Startup


Driver: Duty

When you're ruled by a sense of duty, you often work late because you feel it's expected of you. You handle other people's problems because you think you should, and you sacrifice your own needs for the sake of others. This is a classic way to build up an emotional overdraft. As Greg McKeown says in his book Essentialism: "If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will." When you're in constant duty mode, you're not only exhausting yourself, but also disempowering those around you by not giving them the chance to develop their own sense of responsibility.

Solution: Define personal goals, develop a vision and plan, clarify your role, set up an organizational structure, and challenge your sense of duty.


Driver: Just flipping do it

The phrase "just flipping do it" captures the mindset of leaders who thrive on action and decisiveness. While this can drive progress, it often stems from a need for control, leading to micromanagement and reluctance to delegate, which increases emotional overdraft. Doers can be difficult to work with due to their impatience and lack of concern for others' input. This can alienate team members and lead to rushed, ill-informed decisions. The habit of always stepping in can create a passive team, perpetuating the belief that only the doer can handle tasks effectively.

Solution: Recognize your behavior, value other approaches, prioritize, delegate, create structure, and take positive pauses.


Driver: Cost

"We're short of money." "We don't have the resources." "I can't justify the expense." Cost concerns are a common driver for workaholics, especially when business owners believe they can't afford the resources they need. This mindset often leads to increased workloads and stress, both for themselves and their teams. For example, you might delay hiring an extra pair of hands due to budget constraints, forcing your current team to handle more work. This not only affects productivity, but also leads to burnout. When leaders focus excessively on saving money, they often end up increasing their emotional overdraft and that of their team. This approach can stall growth and innovation, ultimately costing more in the long run.

Solution: Question budget constraints, ensure accurate financial information, adjust pricing, prioritize spending, view hiring as growth, and protect personal wages.


Driver: At a Loss

"I'm out of ideas." "I've no other solution." When we're overwhelmed, it's easy to act on autopilot, and jump to the most obvious solution without considering alternatives. This reactive approach often increases stress and emotional overdraft. Operating under pressure makes it difficult to see the big picture. This narrow focus can lead to decisions that add to your stress rather than alleviate it.

Solution: Seek input from others, create a personal board of advisors, recognize and challenge negative self-talk, focus on learning, and reframe problems.

Related: You're Not Alone: Entrepreneurs Need To Talk About Their Mental Health Battles


Driver: Load-balancing

"I have a short-term need." "I'm stepping in to fill a gap." Load-balancing workaholics step in to fill gaps during urgent situations, often taking on tasks unrelated to their leadership roles. While it can be necessary occasionally, making a habit of it leads to neglected priorities and increased stress. This behavior can undermine team members, as they miss opportunities to solve problems themselves, leading to dependence on the leader and a cycle of frustration.

Solution: Set up processes to prevent repeat problems, avoid over-servicing clients, and label your behavior to recognize and address it.


Driver: Empathy

"I'm part of the team." "I'm showing care and commitment." "I feel guilty if I don't." Empathy is often praised as a valuable trait, but it can drive your emotional overdraft if misapplied. Feeling guilty about not helping others or getting too involved in their issues can drain your resilience.

Empathy should not stem from a need to be liked or a desire to belong. Leaders who absorb their team's emotions too deeply can become overwhelmed and ineffective. It's crucial to distinguish between supportive leadership and over-identifying with employees' problems. Misapplied empathy can lead to burnout, and undermine your leadership.

Solution: Understand empathy in leadership, distinguish types of empathy, avoid needy empathy, and remember your team isn't your family.


Driver: Self-Worth

"It makes me feel needed." "My work is important to me." Many leaders derive their sense of self-worth from their professional achievements and their perceived importance within their organizations. When you tie your self-worth to your job, your emotional stability becomes vulnerable to the ups and downs of business life. A good week boosts your self-esteem, but a bad week can devastate it. This imbalance spills into your personal life, straining relationships and personal well-being.

Solution: Seek constructive validation, identify activities that boost resilience, build a business that runs smoothly without constant intervention, and recognize neediness.

Entrepreneurs can achieve success without sacrificing their health by understanding their drivers and making intentional changes. By delegating effectively, setting boundaries, and prioritizing self-care, you can create a sustainable balance that supports both personal well-being and business success.

If you want to find out which drivers affect you, you can take the free emotional overdraft self-assessment and receive a personal report showing you where you score most highly.

Related: The Middle East is Emerging as a Serious Startup Hotspot — Here's What Entrepreneurs Worldwide Can Learn

Andy Brown is an award-winning leadership coach and Amazon best-selling author. His book, The Emotional Overdraft: 10 Simple Changes for Balancing Business Success and Wellbeing, is available on Amazon. For more insights, follow Andy on LinkedIn.


SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.


You Don't Need Venture Capital Anymore — Here Are 4 Funding Alternatives

Are you hoping to raise capital for your business without traditional investor interference? Here are four alternatives you could pursue.

Starting a Business

3 Things to Consider Before Your Perfect Business Partner Becomes Your Perfect Disaster

There are many reasons for start-up businesses' high failure rate, including lack of cash, not doing enough research and poor marketing. But this one reason is definitely not getting enough attention.

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Starting a Business

He Started an 'Accidental' Business at 25 With Just $2,000 — Then Gave His Product to the Pope: 'Anyone Can Be an Entrepreneur'

Michael Aram, founder of the namesake luxury home and jewelry brand, learned the art of metalworking in India — and used it to launch a global brand.


The 5-Hour Rule Used by Bill Gates, Jack Ma and Elon Musk

The most successful people on the planet are also the people most likely to devote an hour a day to reading and learning.