There is a commonly accepted phrase in leadership and business.

 It is lonely at the top

There is a certainty in the business world that leaders have to go it alone. A leader can’t put their faith and trust in others, and can’t speak openly to their colleagues. Furthermore, their colleagues can’t possibly understand the leader’s experiences and thus the leader needs to maintain a level of detachment. Is this belief really a truism of leadership? How does this viewpoint affect our own leadership?

Leaders are responsible for the welfare of their employees and the overall functioning and effectiveness of the organization. On a daily basis leaders are charged with making challenging decisions, often with limited information, that have significant impact on their people and the success or failure of their organization. The pressures of being a leader are often immense. Going it alone can have significant impact on your personal wellbeing and stress levels. Additionally, a lack of other perspectives can put your decision-making abilities, your professional relationships, and communication at a considerable disadvantage.

Leaders, and aspiring leaders, need support not only for their personal wellbeing but also their professional capabilities. Leadership does not need to be, and should not be, a lonely place. So how can you determine if you have the support you need? Challenge yourself by asking these four questions:

  1. How are people contributing to your life? Determine the roles that people play in your life. Reflect on who brings energy, care, and encouragement to you, particularly in times of need.
  2. How can you put your ego aside? Consider the quote from Jules Renard, “If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right”. Ask yourself if your desire to have all the answers is hindering you in seeking support.
  3. Who is the one person you can say anything to? We all need someone who is trustworthy and maintains confidentiality, while listening without judgment or personal investment.
  4. Who in your work life brings out the best in you? Reach out to this person for their perspective and wisdom, especially when the demands of your role become greater. Having a person who offers constructive and generous support will increase your confidence and sense of self.

Leadership does not need to be, and should not be, a lonely place. Seek out support, and build a loyal and understanding network. You will be better for it, your work will be better for it, and your leadership will be better for it.

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