Most of us have heard about it, and though it already sounds like a cliché, there’s no denying that it can be lonely at the top.
We’re all familiar with the prestige, responsibilities and financial rewards that can accompany that level of accomplishment. However, for someone who has never experienced life in the C-suite, it may be helpful to understand some of the other hidden pressures that come with the power of that title.
Below are some of the factors that make being at the top challenging at times.
One of the things that makes a CEO’s job so much more complicated than it already is is the isolation. When you’re in a position of power, feeling disconnected from the rest of the people in your organization is something that comes naturally given the dynamics of the relationship between a leader and the people he or she leads.
Just look at it this way. As the CEO, you want the organization to succeed by knocking down its goals. Realizing how crucial people are in the achievement of these goals, you’ll do anything to relate to your staff and form a connection.
However, in this day and age, employees are looking for leaders who are visible, approachable, authentic and vulnerable. Not an easy task. It’s a double-edged sword. As much as vulnerability can be viewed as a strength, it may also be frowned up as a weakness. Like the good parent, your children (employees) want to feel safe, like “you’ve got it covered.” They want to know they can depend on you to protect their interests. Too much vulnerability, particularly when you’re in the middle of difficult personal time, can feel like TMI (Too much information!)
Secondly, there’s always the element of vulnerability on the part of the employees. How much do they actually tell you so that they do not jeopardize their own position? No matter how transparent you may be, it’s natural for some people to feel a little hesitation in opening up out of fear of judgment or retaliation.
You can’t entirely blame them for feeling that way though.
You can’t blame it on yourself either because such a reaction doesn’t necessarily reflect on you. Most of it is purely human nature and workplace dynamics and nothing personal.
No one to turn to
As if that feeling of disconnection isn’t bad enough, what makes things tougher for CEOs in handling these kinds of issues is that they have no one to confide. No matter how eager you are to tell your wife or your husband about your ordeal, you’ll think twice. And you’ll do this for several reasons:
- Because of confidentiality. You may not have the freedom to share the intimate complexities of your job
- They may not understand your role and the complexity of the delicate nature of your relationships
- You may not want to burden them with problems of your own. You may be experiencing burn out, but you don’t want to take them with you
So who do you turn to? Who do you ask for advice?
Unfortunately, in my experience, most CEOs would rather keep all these challenges to themselves. Things don’t have to be that way, however. As complicated as it may sound, there are meaningful ways to find someone who can share the burden and somehow make things easier on your part.
If you have a few minutes and you’d like to find out how well you perform in high-stakes situations, take this Mastery Under Pressure Quiz. It only takes 5-10 minutes.
Seek One-on-One Mentorship or Executive Coaching
Having someone to talk to can make a huge difference in battling the loneliness that being in the C-suite brings, especially if that person has already gone through similar experiences. Different mentors/coaches bring a variety of skills to the table. An additional benefit is the expert can help you see your “blind spots.” We all have them. Other people can see them, where we frequently cannot. It’s really important to know your own personality and behavior patterns and where/how they can trip you up.
The one-on-one format allows for complete transparency, allowing you to discuss anything to the extent to which you’re willing to give. If you want to succeed and still come out whole, getting a mentor would be a smart decision.
Join a Mastermind Group
Jim Rohn once said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and a mastermind group best exemplifies this principle.
By working with like-minded individuals, you’re not only able to address your loneliness issues but also learn from other CEO’s experiences. This wealth of knowledge will come in handy once you come face-to-face with the same problems as you go along your journey.
You’ll be able to exchange ideas about the common issues your respective organization shares, the type of leadership that works best or specific situations, and so much more.
When you’ve got a group of individuals sharing stories about their victories and losses, everyone’s a winner because of the value each individual brings to the table.
Is it lonely at the top? That’s the million-dollar question on every CEO’s mind, and whether we like it or not, the truth is it can be. It’s not because of who you are but because it comes with the territory.
It doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that there’s no way around it. As savage as the CEO’s responsibilities are, you don’t have to do it all alone.
Stop keeping all the sorrow and disappointments to yourself by recognizing that everyone needs help no matter how powerful and in control you are. Sometimes, all it takes to get rid of all these loneliness and isolation you feel is to talk to someone who can identify with what you’re going through.
Whether it’s through a mastermind group, one-on-one mentorship or executive coaching, it’s entirely up to you. Make no mistake about it though, talking to these people will help tremendously in making your life in the C-suite a fruitful and rewarding one.
Tina Greenbaum, LCSW is a High-Performance Specialist, Holistic Psychotherapist, Author, and International Speaker.She is the creator of the program Mastery Under Pressure, an executive coaching program that teaches Olympic-level mindset skills for peak performance in high-stakes and high-stress environments.
- Posted by Tina Greenbaum
- On 16th September 2019
- 0 Comments