The life of a leader can be both exciting and challenging; rewarding and exhausting at various time. Leadership can also be incredibly lonely at times, but it does not need to be.
The first few years of my current leadership position were exciting and lonely at the same time. I loved my calling but soon realized the phrase, “It’s lonely at the top,” had some truth to it.
I fought against the loneliness by trying to reach out to other people. I knew in my line of work this took more perseverance than I expected, as my first few attempts at connecting to others in my role were just me leaving voicemails. I didn’t give up, and it paid off.
Eventually, I found a local gathering of others in my position, who met once a month. Through this group, I realized that leaders need to break away from isolation and have others join them on the journey.
I believe, in order to thrive, Leaders need to invest time in five different relationships.
1. God– If you are passionate about what you do, you may have a hard time shutting down the “Thinktank.” For this reason, and others, every leader needs a daily quiet time.
As a person of faith, I spend this time in prayer, scripture reading, or worship. If you struggle to have a devotion time, this post may help you out.
2. Family – This may sound as if it is a given, but it is not. Leaders who are passionate about their organizations, sometimes do so at a heavy price to their family.
I heard someone say, “Do not trade something that is unique to you (ie.your family), for something that may not be permanent.” Your family is permanent, but your job or business may not be.
3. Your tribe – In his book Tribes, Seth Godin states, “A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea……A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
The group that meets once a month is my tribe. It is helpful to meet with others who can clearly relate to what you are experiencing.
4. A coach– Coaching is one of the best investments you can make in your personal development. I define a coach as someone in your corner to challenge you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
Yes, there is usually a price with this, but the return on your investment far outweighs the cost. I personally have had multiple coaches, and have invested thousands of my own dollars, but I believe it was more than worth it.
You can hire a coach that is either experienced in your industry or has the skills to help you reach your desired goals. If you need more motivation to hire a coach, read this article by Forbes.
I have used the services of coaches for years, and now am coaching myself.
5. A friend- This is the person you want to go fishing with, watch a ballgame, or meet up with for coffee. You can talk about a myriad of subjects with this person, or say nothing at all.
You can also share about things that have been bottled up and needed to be shared. An article from the Harvard Business Review tells us:
“Emotional support is equally essential. Like anyone else, executives occasionally need to vent when they’re dealing with something crazy or irritating at work, and friends and family are a safer audience than colleagues. This [support] serves as a much-needed outlet from the pressures of raising a family and leading an organization.”
As you can see, a leader does not need to be lonely. The relationships mentioned can help a leader endure challenges and thrive in their role.
The level of change I have experienced when I have all of these relationships in my life is revolutionary. Prioritizing these relationships not only helps you keep the right perspectives by honoring God and your family with time, but you are also getting the other supports you need to be the best version of you, you can be.
Take out your calendar and give some space for each of these relationships.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Is something else you would add to the list, or are there one of these that you struggle with?