If you’re an entrepreneur, you may be the boss of other people, or maybe you’re a one-person department. Yet in all cases, maybe you’re, as Roy Orbison would say, “only the lonely”?
Isolation is often an unintended, risky, and undesired effect of being in a leadership position.
Sure, you can share your victories and tribulations with loved ones and friends, but any way you look at it, you are alone in your experiences as You-the-leader. This isn’t a flaw; it often simply comes with the role.
How do great leaders vet their big decisions, commiserate about the challenges of leadership, or brainstorm with others to improve their business strategies?
How do great leaders vet their big decisions, commiserate about the challenges of leadership, or brainstorm with others to improve their business strategies? Does it have to be lonely at the top?
There are things you can do to get connected and integrate your experience as a leader into supportive and appropriate relationships. Engaging with other leaders allows you to have more fun, feel less risk, and empower your ability to think with mastermind. Here are three ways to make that happen:
1. Make an ally in your industry.
Be willing to share with someone else in your industry. This could be a friendly competitor, or maybe another solo leader in your same role but in a different region. This kind of relationship can, of course, be tricky: There are likely some topics and details you can’t or won’t share for proprietary or personal reasons. But finding an ally who knows the industry as well as you do can also be rewarding and highly relevant to your life as a lonely leader.
2. Join or form a small business network.
There’s nothing quite like a group of like-minded individuals who come together intentionally to engage and grow themselves professionally. A network can be better than an ally to ward off isolation, because it can be made up of professionals with a mix of similar experiences from different but related industries.
3. Get a professional coach.
Google “everyone needs a coach” and see how great leaders pretty much ALL tell you that you need a coach. Imagine how top-performing athletes and sought-after actors would feel if they didn’t have a coach. They’d never let it happen. They need that high-level, trusted, and purposeful private ally with whom they can share everything that has to do with their success and day-to-day growth of themselves and their profession.
The high performers of this world know that an authentic coaching relationship can bring a richness and trust that can’t be found in other relationships. Your professional business coach has one goal and one goal only—your success; in other words, helping you get what you want by keeping you on the path you intend; questioning your choices in order to identify the best possible results; and even encouraging you when things get tough. A great business coach helps with your life issues, too. Not that a professional coach wants to be your therapist, but they do want to help you achieve perspective and clarity and have a rich life that supports your achievement and success. Your coach looks at your life, health, relationships, business, productivity, finance—everything that contributes to or diminishes your success.
Engaging a professional coach can be empowering, full of the communication and creativity that keep you performing at your best. It’s like having your cake and eating it, too, to be able to privately ask the big questions and know that you are not alone. Your coach has your back.
It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top.