Like most people, I started my career “in the ranks.” I remember the camaraderie I felt towards my co-workers and the sense of healthy competition. When I needed help or had a question, I could simply lean over to the next desk or pop my head into my manager’s office. From time to time, I would also turn to my colleagues to vent or blow off some steam.
As I progressed up the proverbial ladder, I found that there were fewer people I could turn to for support. In addition, a major part of my job shifted from asking for help to providing guidance and accountability. Many times I longed to share some of my thoughts and feelings with co-workers, as in the past. As a manager, though, this would have been inappropriate and would have negatively impacted my ability to perform my duties.
As a company owner and CEO, there were times when I wondered, “Who can I turn to for help?” This question is a common topic of concern for many in a leadership role. Most leaders admit that they occasionally experience feelings of loneliness and isolation in their roles, and that feeling “disconnected” negatively impacts their personal effectiveness. Besides feeling alone, isolation can cause stagnation in the critical areas of leadership and vision, integral components of the role of a manager or executive.
In our world of infinite ways to connect, loneliness is optional, and those that allow it to persist have no one but themselves to blame. Here are fives to eliminate loneliness:
- Create an advisory board, pay them well, and lean on them for support. Yes, pay for this. We get more out things in which we invest both time and money.
- Partner with a peer at a competitive company and really leverage the partnership. If it makes sense to keep your friends close and your enemies closer, it makes even more sense to keep your competitors right by your side. They are not a friend or an enemy; they get what being you is like better than anyone. There is zero risk as there is more than enough business out there for both your companies.
- Don’t just join an association, participate fully in it. Associations only work if your work in your association.
- Work less and play more. Not all loneliness has to be dealt with at the office. Having outsides interests and people to explore those with often fulfills this need.
- Hire an advisor. Yes, this is a shameless plug for my Executive Advisor services. Some of my best clients have been with me for more than a decade, citing how having unlimited access to me has eliminated any feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The top looks much less lonely when you invite people to join you there.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Create more connections than you think you need, regardless of how lonely, or not, you feel. Better to have more than you need than find yourself, at any point, not having what you need.
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