Leadership is Lonely
The irony of leadership is that you are surrounded by people, yet leaders are at unique risk for loneliness.
The higher up you go and the more responsibility you have, the more pervasive loneliness can become. There’s also a certain kind of loneliness that shows up for new leaders too, who haven’t built the support systems yet.
Here are some of the reasons leaders tell me loneliness shows up for them:
- Leadership can leave you feeling somewhat censored because your words and actions matter and can easily be misinterpreted. It can become tiring watching your words, and over time it can feel isolating.
- People often see only the leader in you, not the human part, so it leaves little room for vulnerability.
- Your work as a leader sometimes isn’t about tangible results, so you can sometimes wonder if the work you’re doing even matters.
- Most of all, leadership can trigger powerful transformations in you, and it can feel like other people don’t understand the stretch that leadership creates internally.
I wanted to make this post to say I see you!
I see you going all in, physically in terms of the hours you work, mentally in terms of the hours you think about work when you’re not at work, emotionally because you care deeply, and spiritually because you’ve committed your heart and soul to this.
I see you giving all of yourself to the people you serve and never giving credit to yourself.
You are the most inspiring of leaders because you are following a calling. You’ve been drawn to leadership not for the power or status, but because you can make a difference. You want to create change not just in the practice you work in or own, but in the wider industry too. You are prepared to plant trees that you may never see grow.
You can serve even more powerfully and have a greater presence and impact if you tackle this cloud of loneliness that hangs over you.
Here are my top 3 tips:
1) Complete honesty
Don’t try and convince yourself that you’re fine and that everything will be ok. Acknowledge the truth, accept the truth, and only then can you make choices and decisions to change or reframe the loneliness.
2) Savour solitude
Solitude and loneliness are different. Solitude is being alone, but loneliness is feeling alone. Solitude allows you space to process complicated emotions and mental states that come with leadership. I also believe that leaders who embrace solitude have more courage to stand up alone and face adversities.
3) Find comfort and courage in community
Although I love 1:1 coaching, one of the main reasons I developed my group coaching programmes is to create a sense of community for leaders. Leaning on the power of a community of people who know exactly what you’re going through and can give valuable peer support, is so powerful. People who know what it’s like to exist in the world of leadership can look at your challenges with fresh eyes and provide their own unique knowledge and experiences. I also find that the people you go on a group coaching journey with are excellent mirrors to reflect back to you what you cannot see in yourself yet.
I have two group coaching programmes running in 2023: