It’s Lonely At the Top!

Posted by on May 3, 2016
It’s Lonely At the Top!

3 Irrefutable Principles Dealing with Leadership Loneliness

As a CHRO, I coached corporate and nonprofit executive senior leadership – the C-suite, board members, and high-potentials. In my experience coaching both new leaders and seasoned executives, I learned a great deal about the people who lead organizations. Both my experience and the research confirms that its lonely at the top of any organization, and especially lonely at a startup or an organization in transition.

Even if you talk with your team and staff each day, your office is a lonely place at 7am when you and your coffee are alone facing the day.  A leader’s isolation has negative ramifications on others. And it’s not just CEOs who experience this kind of loneliness — it’s team managers, entrepreneurs, and significant others. In fact, anyone who finds themselves fighting the battle to achieve success can feel isolated, feeling the weight on their shoulders to achieve success. This pressure and isolation isn’t good for business decision-making, your family or your organization.

Many times leaders don’t realize they are feeling and acting in isolation mode and they feel they don’t have the right to experience isolation. After all, they are working hard to create this business. But it’s a normal human response to experience times of isolation as the leader of a demanding business. 

Leaders can guard against being isolated by making connecting with others a priority. Don’t feel bad about not doing it, don’t think you don’t have time. Just accept it as a necessity that will make you better! These are 3 key points to end leadership isolation, and the potential to increase business opportunity.

3 Strategies to End Leadership Isolation

1.  Form a Board of Advisors
CEOs routinely put together a board of advisors, which is helpful from a business standpoint. These are NOT members of your board of directors. This is a small group of men and women who you have asked to consult with you for 2 to 3 hours for breakfast or lunch, perhaps 6 times per year. Look for those with whom you can speak openly.  These can be peers in different companies or similar companies, or even retired industry professionals. The goal is to have several people you can consult with regularly to bounce around ideas; discuss fears, client feedback and challenges; and gain perspective.

Many senior leaders welcome the opportunity to be an advisor as it provides them high-level resume content, “Board of Advisors of ABC Corporation.” Advisors may be compensated for their time, and are typically reimbursed for expenses such as travel expenses.

2.  Control Your Lucifer Gene
CEOs and senior leadership often struggle with what I call “the Lucifer Gene,” or executive arrogance. Find and meet regularly with a peer group, where you can discuss confidential situations with leaders at your same career level who are or have battled similar circumstances. It can have a significant impact on your well-being and business perspective.

Building a peer network helps you learn from each other’s progress and roadblocks. You all share the “the Lucifer Gene,” the arrogance and feeling of invincible strength in leadership. Your Lucifer Gene got you to the top, but it can now take you down. The arrogance of the Lucifer Gene is your strength, but it also your leadership Achilles Heel!

3.  Find a Coach and Mentor – or a Therapist!
As an executive coach, I have a strong bias for the value of working with a leadership coach. A leadership coach is an investment in your career. We’ve all seen movies or TV shows where the lead is in counseling or coaching relationship: think the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi, Batman and Alfred, or Tony Soprano and Dr. Melfi.

I worked with an executive coach for years before I became one.

One of the reasons a coach is helpful is because he or she can discuss issues with no vested interest in the client’s decision — unlike nearly everyone else in their life.

A good coach helps you see your blind spots (your scotomas) and get underneath the issues, not just attack them at the surface. Leaders use their coach to bring out their best, and help identify and correct their weakness.

As your executive coach I am not going to be your friend! I coach leaders the way I was coached as a starting middle linebacker at the University of Notre Dame – Performance, Execution, Leadership, Success

Find Your Impact Zone:
The Place Where You are Going to Make the Difference

Find the right leadership coach for you, and don’t expect your coach to be your friend. Expect us to tell you the truth and help you achieve excellence! 

Don’t call me until you are ready to change and succeed as a leader! You are the quarterback, but I am your coach:

It’s time to Listen, Learn and Execute!

I’m an HR consultant, author, speaker and executive coach. I can help you Find Your Impact Zone: The Place Where You Make a Difference.

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