It’s a fact: Senior managers report higher levels of loneliness*.

As a business owner growing a business or a senior manager progressing through the corporate ranks, becoming the boss often means having to recalibrate relationships with peers and colleagues. This can be especially challenging if relationships with those peers were long-lasting and well nurtured, possibly even being considered as friends.

In such situations, leaders find themselves in a challenging place because those who they would have relied on for counsel or support may now be the very subjects of the issues they are dealing with. Scenarios such as changing business priorities, winding down an unprofitable area of business, hiring and firing, and human resources issues are all mainstay responsibilities of senior leaders. Contending with these issues, which often involve taking difficult decisions, can feel incredibly isolating.

Moreover, as a business owner, you are your business. You will operate in a unique set of complex circumstances and will be continually balancing business priorities with those of your personal, home and family life. Operating in the space can be as lonely as it gets because there is literally, no one else dong it and living it like you, other than you.

You’ve got a friend

So, now I’ve painted this bleak and uncomfortable picture of how challenging and isolating it can be for business owners and senior leaders, let me give you some hope, and a few pointers to help!

Ask for “help”

Asking for help (I use the word help because that is a turn of phrase used. “Help” often has a connotation of negativity about it, when in reality, it’s just asking for something that we don’t have. Nothing negative about that. None of as arrived on this planet as the finished product and with exactly the right bag of tools for the job.) is the single biggest thing you can do to feel less isolated. Starting up and running my own coaching business, I’ve been bowled over by how generous relative strangers can be when I’ve asked for help, advice or simply what has worked for someone else experiencing similar challenges. Whilst no one else is in your specific context, others will have gone through similar experiences and challenges. Asking for help is not a failing, it’s an invitation to someone else to share their insight, experience and wisdom. Asking for input from someone is also an opportunity to create a deeper connection with them and gives them an opportunity to share something about themselves. Don’t deny either of you these valuable moments.

Be curious

Remain open and interested in what others have done, even if you think it might not be relevant to your context. The act of being curious and paying attention to others, often delivers little pearls of wisdom right when they are of most use to you, even if you didn’t know what you were looking for at that time. I’ve received some of the best advice when I wasn’t looking or asking for it, I just needed to be open to receiving it.

Enlist support

Of course there are certain things you can’t delegate away, (read my post for some tips on effective delegation) however, there may be times when you CAN enlist input from colleagues, including around difficult decisions, provided that you set the expectations from the start. This is a pertinent reminder that being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you have to have all the answers figured out for yourself. Being a great business leader means creating the right environment for the best solutions to be found.

Get coached!

Of course I’m going to say this but coaching really can help. A coach is a trained listener. They are trained to be impartial and objective which can be priceless when others may be affected by your actions and decisions. Coaches offer you a safe space to think those difficult thoughts, talk through the challenges, unpack how you feel about them and get clear on which is the right course of action for you and your business. Coaches have no other agenda than to serve their clients to the best of their ability and help get the results their clients desire.

If you have a business leadership issue that you’re grappling with right now, why not book a FREE discovery call to find out if coaching is right for you.

*Taken from a report published by the British Red Cross drawing from using research undertaken for the  All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Tackling Loneliness and Connected Communities. 

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