10 Reasons Leaders Feel Alone
“It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely.” Albert Einstein
You can be loved, respected, successful, and appreciated, but still feel like you’re swinging the sword alone.
It’s normal to feel alone. It’s the pattern that weakens your knees and crushes your spirit.
10 reasons you feel alone:
- Work consumes all of life. Everything is about getting something done.
- You care and help in self-destructive ways. Lonely leaders need dependent followers.
- You’re hiding inner pain. Secrets make you lonely. Fear of rejection keeps you crouching behind the bushes.
- Listening and judging are the same thing.
- Drink, food, or tobacco are an escape.
- Control is your middle name.
- You unintentionally intimidate others.
- You always know more than others.
- Your public self has strangled your private self.
- You can’t be alone.
4 ways to deal with leadership loneliness:
There is no permanent cure for leadership loneliness, only regular treatments.
#1. Feeling alone is about you. Expecting others to solve our loneliness only makes us feel more alone. Others help, but can’t solve loneliness.
#2. Deal with feeling alone by getting alone. When you feel alone in crowd, it’s time to get alone with yourself. Isolation, as a pattern, limits leaders. Solitude, as a practice, strengthens.
Those who fear being alone, can’t be alone.
#3. Practice forward-facing vulnerability with an inner circle of trusted friends. (Even though others can’t solve leadership loneliness, develop a small group of friends you trust and respect.)
Vitality feeds on long-term authentic connection.
#4. Live like the world will go on without you. Yes, you’re filling an important role. You’ll be missed when you step away. But the sun will still rise when you’re gone.
What are some causes of leadership loneliness?
How might leaders address the feeling of being an army of one?
> How might leaders address the feeling of being an army of one?
If you’re an “army of one”, you’re not (currently) a leader. You might be about to be a leader, when everyone realises that you’re what they’re looking for, but until that happens, you’re not yet a leader. Leaders have followers.
> What are some causes of leadership loneliness?
Not trusting your followers.
Might also be worth noting that alone is different to lonely. It’s possible to be alone without being lonely, also possible to be lonely without being alone.
Thanks Ben. Wonderful insights. The power of trust speaks to me in this context. Distrust is lonely. Trust connects.
You are right on…being alone and being lonely are separate things. I believe learning to be alone is part of the answer to loneliness.
I find with everyone striving for perfection, control seems to be everyone as you note. A true leader learn to trust and relinquish control Once they do they learn it can work in their favour, creating a sense of empowerment and trust. Sadly so many leaders don’t even wish to try- for fear of something going ‘wrong’. The learning happens when people realize their errors and they come out stronger, if you’ll let them.
Thanks Kari. This is the second time trust comes to the conversation. I never thought of distrust as a source of loneliness. But, now it seems obvious. Cheers
Well written Dan – thanks!
What are some causes of leadership loneliness? Isolated remote offices, closed doors, introverted personality, some people do not mix well and prefer isolation.
How might leaders address the feeling of being an army of one? Share the load, delegate to partners, delegate to under studies, be a team player. Change the way you do business, trust your people with something you typically do yourself.
“Isolation, as a pattern, limits leaders. Solitude, as a practice, strengthens.” Yes, you have hit upon something very important here. Perhaps you might do a piece that compares and contrasts the two?
“Those who fear being alone, can’t be alone.” Yes, indeed! I find this to be increasingly true, especially among those who look to others for validation.
However, there is always some loneliness in leadership, and that’s not a negative thing. Jesus felt alone, but only because no one understood him, so he had no one (except for the Father) to really connect to on a deeper level. Being able to manage this is really a very important aspect of leadership. Another great post, Dan!