Leadership is lonely

Leadership is a team sport. That you do on your own. You are the one. You are responsible. You are accountable. You take the ownership. During the good times. And when things go boom.  

And when things go boom, no matter how good your team is, or how good your support network is, there are times when you feel alone. When you feel like everything is going to crumble around you. And you might not even be sure how you are going to get through the current situation. 

Leaders can feel lonely at times. 

During our leadership training programs, we have a positive vibe. We rock it. They are high energy, highly engaging, and highly focused on enterprise thinking! Until the morning of day 2. Day 2 is guest speaker day, and we ask 2 speakers (thank you to all you who have spoken at our programs – love your work), one in the morning, and one at lunch time, to come and share their horror stories and their boom events. 

When they felt most isolated and most lonely as a leader. 

The topic of their session is literally – leadership is lonely. 

It is a great session, because it makes leadership real. It helps the attendees know that other leaders do it tough, too. Actually, some leaders have been through tragic boom events. And when they can unpack the satiation, and more importantly; what they did, and what they learnt, the attendees get a real insight into how others handle the struggles of leadership. 

It is powerful. 

With this article, I am going to focus on process, rather than people. Of course, during a boom event, you get good people around you, you reach out to your support network, you debrief with a psychologist or similar. You connect to get support. Those things should happen, but here are some process related ideas for when leadership gets lonely. 

1. Work on your leadership under pressure skills before the boom event 

Don’t wait until things go boom to start working on your resilience or your coping skills. Work on those skills well in advance of when you will need them. Work on your composure, your emotional intelligence, your collaboration, and reasoning skills now.  

So that they will be there when you need them. 

We know from research into resilience, that resilience is not developed during a boom event, it is developed prior to and following the event. 

2. Face the situation head on, and make the decisions that matter 

Know that boom events (the major ones at least) can rock you to your core.  

Yesterday, I read that there was a fatality at an Ironman event over the weekend, where a cameraman was killed whilst filming the race. A tragedy. Ironman CEO, Andrew Messick, commented on the situation and took full responsibility for the things that Ironman did well, and the things that they didn’t, as part of that tragic event (love to the family involved, too). 

I am an Andrew Messick fan, I think he has done an amazing job with the brand, but this week, Andrew will feel alone at times. And words can’t explain how he would be feeling given that someone was killed at an event that Ironman were running. A triathlon. 

The challenge for Andrew (and their senior leadership team) is to manage the situation and manage the outcomes from it. It is hard to speculate on what those decisions might be, but facing them, making them, and following through on them will be important. 

3. Like all boom events, preventing recurrence must be the priority 

During any boom event, it is a priority to make sure that a situation like that never happens again.  

Returning to the Ironman tragedy from the weekend, one of the headings in the report about the incident, was ‘what we learned from this incident.’  

That is a key element of dealing with the boom events when leadership is lonely. Having a forward focus is key – and a forward focus helps you to take a different approach to the event and helps you to focus on never letting the event happen. Ever again. 

In summary, leadership can be lonely! Work on your coping skills so you can be at least partially ready for boom events. Make the required decisions and focus on preventing recurrence.  

And please click the image below if you’d like to chat about what leadership means to you.

If you would like to learn more about Anton or The Guinea Group, please click hereto book into Anton’s calendar, to:

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About Anton

Anton has dedicated his working life to helping leaders to upgrade their mindset, upskill their leadership, and uplift their teams! With a focus on helps leaders to better lead under pressure. Anton is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant, bestselling author and founder of The Guinea Group. Over the past 19 years, Anton has worked with over 175+ global organisations, he has inspired workplace leadership, safety, and cultural change. He’s achieved this by combining his corporate expertise, education (Bachelor of HR and Psychology), and infectious energy levels.
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