By Brandon Cangany, CPA
Manager, Tax Services
When you were a child, you looked forward to adulthood so you could make your own decisions. Early in your career, you may have sought upper-level promotions so you could direct operations rather than being directed. Careful what you ask for!
If you’re the leader of a business, department, organization — your team members come to you to help them solve their problems, boost their confidence and assure them of their value to the team. For YOU, unlike your team members, you’re supposed to be impervious to bad news, always shining bright with positivity and the perfect solution for every problem. Unfortunately, you are human, and the utopia visualized above is NOT reality. Leadership can be very lonely — courage is very important.
Because of the pedestal on which we sometimes put leaders, their lives at the top can get lonely. In fact, a survey from RHR International found that 50 percent of CEOs experience feelings of loneliness in their careers, 61 percent of whom believe this negatively impacts their performance. More recent studies show that senior leaders are especially lonelier in and outside of work because of their demanding leadership roles.
So, to whom should business leaders turn when they are on the pinnacle of the leadership pyramid?
First, there are Executive Coaches. They serve as an impartial third party and fresh set of eyes on your management conduct and vision for success. Some Executive Coaches will perform an intensive 360-degree assessment at the outset, gathering information about how your employees, managers and other stakeholders perceive you. They’ll then refer to this assessment as you work together to set goals for improvement and dealing with challenges and stress. Many are professionally trained and have a wealth of broad-based experiences to assure the Executive they are NOT unique to the place they find themselves.
Creating a more open dialogue between yourself and team members could curb loneliness as well. They may be avoiding that dialogue out of fear and/or intimidation, but let them know you have an open-door policy, which will allow you to work together as peers. Many leaders fear the vulnerability that they may expose themselves to — for them it may be tough to admit what they do not know or what they may not be good at. BUT that is why you surround yourself with a dynamic, diversified skilled group.
Seek out other peers in leadership positions through business networking environments and roundtable discussions. Swapping your business challenges and successes with other manager/owners and CEOs will surely enable a critical ongoing resource. The great leader Nelson Mandela stated it well: “Courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.”
As you climb the ladder of additional responsibility and accountability, do not believe you are alone, but along the way build relationships and resources that will make you better … every day!