Why it Doesn’t Need to be Lonely at the Top

December 6, 2015
Mary Jo Asmus

We’ve all heard it: “It’s lonely at the top.” That may be true for some leaders, but I would challenge that statement and question the well-being of a leader who believes it is undeniably true for them.

Certainly there are times when we must make a final critical resolution alone and that can make you feel isolated and lonely. But the loneliest leaders are those who continually struggle without help in making decisions.

We are hardwired (and are at our best) to have shared helpful relationships. And so often, we don’t even consider inviting others in to help us think through things.

Consider what it might be like to feel less lonely and to take more comfort in the decisions you make:

The next time you struggle, ask “who can help”? Such a simple question, yet such a difficult and vulnerable stance to take when you know that you may not be able to break through your stuck-ness without help from others. If you can see that the decision you have to make will be a tough one, begin early to ask yourself who you can invite into the conversation to work through the issues you grapple with.

Surround yourself with trusted advisors. It’s a great thing to know that you can reach out to a variety of individuals who have only your best interests in mind. Who might help in a non-judgmental way? It could be insiders like your boss, a peer, or an employee or it might make sense to look outside of your organization to a partner, a coach or a friend who can take a neutral stance.

Know that asking for help isn’t a sign or weakness. One of the hardest things leaders have to do is to get out of their own way enough to ask for help. It isn’t a sign of weakness – we all need to talk through things from time to time. And in the end, if you’ve chosen your advisors carefully, they’ll want to participate in helping you to think. Gather up some courage and reach out to them.

Keep yourself open to new ideas. It’s really quite magical how the answers become clearer when you invite others into your dilemmas. Your decisions may be quicker, and they most certainly will be better if you keep your mind and heart open to out-of-the-box ideas. When combined with a dose of realism, those crazy ideas might be just the thing you need to get to closure.

You are smart, but you don’t have to struggle alone to find answers. The next time you’re stuck in making a decision, find someone you trust to get over the barriers to finding the best resolution possible. It really doesn’t need to be lonely at the top if you’re willing to reach out and invite others to help.

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Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.

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