It’s Lonely at the Top

Being a leader can get lonely. Here are some tips to help.

Running a business is isolating. Whether you’re a CEO or business owner, your job is unlike any other. The success or failure of your company rests squarely on your shoulders. That’s a burden most people can’t understand, and it may also explain why 63% of executives experience loneliness in their role.

Although it may be difficult for leaders to admit, or even recognize, very often their feelings of isolation are self-induced. A study conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business found that nearly 100% of CEOs enjoy the process of receiving coaching and leadership advice, but only one-third actually enlist that type of help.

Going it alone can be dangerous. Making it to the top of the leadership ranks doesn’t mean you suddenly have all the answers. Even the most adept leader can have blind spots that go unrecognized without outside perspective, and they can lead to costly mistakes.

Flying solo can also be detrimental to your health. Trying to do everything can quickly lead to exhaustion and frustration; in fact, 75% of executives plan to leave their jobs within 5 years, many because of burnout.

So why is there a gap between needing and wanting counsel and actually seeking it? Unfortunately, I have noticed a tendency among some top-level executives to view asking for help as a sign of weakness. Trust me, it’s not!

Having a way to discuss your unique situation can reduce stress and keep you sane. Whether you hire a coach, find a mentor, or join a peer group, it’s important that CEOs and other senior executives have a safe haven to get camaraderie, empathy, and advice.

I’m a strong advocate for peer groups, like The Alternative Board’s advisory boards. These confidential groups are made up of leaders who want to help each other succeed. They’re a collegial environment where executives can comfortably share issues they can’t discuss with anyone else, including their staff or family.

No matter where you find it, getting support is incredibly important. If you don’t yet have somewhere to turn when you’re struggling with a decision or beating your head against the wall with your board, now is the time to find one. Don’t wait until you need to talk. Make it your mission today to find a supportive, inspirational, and like-minded sounding board.

You don’t have to go it alone, but only you can seek the support you need to rid yourself of loneliness.

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