Are You a Lonely Leader?
Reasons Why Leaders are Lonely!
“Let’s go for coffee today” he said, “I just need to get out of the office and talk to you where no one is going to over hear us!” Our conversation over coffee was deep, and as we walked back he told me that one of the reasons he retains me as his business coach is because he has no one else to talk to.
I wasn’t surprised. I have heard that often. The truth of the matter is that when we are leaders and owners of companies we often feel that we have no one to talk to, we struggle with loneliness, and here is why.
1. The Buck Stops Here! As leaders we are making tough decisions that affect our employees and feel that the buck stops with us. So often we think that we can’t share our struggles because no one has as much at stake as we do. We think that if our decisions result in profits we gain, and if they result in losses we lose. I remember in the early years of running my companies where I felt that I needed to hide the pain of the tough decisions of firing someone or deciding how to manage cash flow to ensure that employees got paid.
2. We Can’t Take it Home! When I started one of my businesses and I was so excited after a thrilling day in the trenches. I came home enthusiastic to share my experiences and within a few short minutes I could see the eyes glaze over in my audience around the table. In that moment something clicked, I switched the conversation to what happened with them and could see everyone come back to life. If you are a business leader, you know what I am talking about. 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. “What you should do…..” We have all heard it. The advice you do get often isn’t relevant and listening to people “should” on you is itself frustrating.
3. We Feel Shame! If we are having difficulties in our organization, we sometimes feel that we can’t talk about the issues with our peers because we feel ashamed that we aren’t succeeding in our task. Rarely do we talk about our failures; those bad hires, the lack of income, the struggle to make ends meet, the marketing that isn’t working or the new product or service launch that went sideways. We want to give the impression that everything is always going great when it isn’t always.
4. We Don’t Know the Answer! Related to the shame of failure, is the embarrassment of when, as leaders, we don’t have the answer. We think because we are in the top seat that we need to know the answer to every question and the solution to every problem. It takes a big leaders to admit their weaknesses!
So, it’s no surprise that as leaders we are lonely. We are bottling up our problems and we often feel that we have no real way to share the weight of these issues. All leaders are faced with similar challenges. However not all leaders are lonely in their decisions. Next week I will talk about 3 things you can do to effectively reduce the loneliness you feel as a leader! Stay tuned!
Dave Fuller is a Certified Professional Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Can’t wait until next week? Email firstname.lastname@example.org