Recently I wrote about why leaders are lonely. “Great article!” people told me. “I get it, but what do I do if I’m a leader who’s challenged by those exact reasons?”
To refresh your memory, here are the four reasons that business leaders are lonely:
- The buck stops here. As leaders, we make tough decisions that affect our employees and we feel that the buck stops with us.
- We can’t take it home. Family and friends just don’t get it. They don’t understand the complexity of the problems and they feel that they don’t have anything to offer in terms of advice.
- We feel shame. We want to give the impression that everything is always going great when it isn’t always and we feel ashamed because we aren’t as successful as others believe us to be.
- We don’t know the answer. Related to the shame of failure is the embarrassment of leaders when we don’t have the answer. We think because we’re in the top seat that we need to know the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.
So what do successful leaders do to curb loneliness?
Create a team
One of the best things I ever did in my business was to meet on a quarterly basis with my department managers to study the biggest challenges and opportunities, and formulate a plan together.
This took the weight off of my shoulders and enabled me to share some of the decision-making and workload. It also gave me the opportunity to talk about some of those tough decisions and get real feedback in a timely manner.
Sometimes as leaders we think that we’re the only ones with effective business ideas, but the reality is that your front-line workers, your managers and even your customers have some incredible ideas. And they’re more than willing to help you build the dream. Tap into your dream team and never be lonely again!
If they’re not a dream team yet, as you engage them to work together as a team, they will become the dream.
Have a support network
I run several peer groups for business leaders. Recently at a group for executive directors of non-profits, I overheard a couple of leaders say that despite the fact that they feel overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to complete in their organization, getting together with their peers is one of their most important monthly tasks. They clear their calendars to make it happen.
Having a peer group with whom you can share your challenges and opportunities each month can be invigorating. When you realize that your issues aren’t unique, that others have gone through a similar situation and are willing to share what they learned, your burden becomes much lighter.
Have trusted advisers
More than 45 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs use business coaches. Many of the CEOs I know have trusted advisers; some are within the company and many others are outsiders who observe the business with new eyes. For some, it’s an accountant, others a lawyer, sometimes it’s a mentor or a coach.
When you have someone with business knowledge who gives you honest and open feedback, you have less need to hold the stress inside. Not only that, trusted advisers like business coaches have been proven to provide a 700 per cent return on investment.
Having someone who keeps you accountable, gives you a different perspective and reduces your need to take your stress home to family and friends is what the doctor ordered for most business leaders.
The days, weeks and years running a business are too long to be spent thinking that you’re doing it by yourself. The stress of loneliness is detrimental to your health.
It can be lonely at the top but it doesn’t have to be!
Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.