A Comedy Makes Pfizer’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Feel Alone

Tears streamed down Sally Susmans face while she watched The Intern on the return flight from business in Europe. It was Spring, 2016. She felt alone.

Robert De Niro becomes Ann Hathaway’s best friend in the movie. He’s a seventy-year-old intern. She’s an ambitious young leader. Sally Susma thought, “I want a mature presence, a true confidant, an office friend.” She writes about it – along with much more – in her new book, Breaking Through.

Susman’s story made me cry.

Leadership is wrong when done alone. Image of a person standing alone on a rock in the middle of the ocean.

Sally got off the plane determined to contact Paul Critchlow, former Vice Chairman at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, to ask him to be her summer intern. Paul shares his experience here.

We have associates, colleagues, neighbors, but 20% of Americans have no one to talk to. Gen Z is the loneliest generation (people born between 1997 and 2012).

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future,” Anonymous.

Individualism isn't all it's cracked up to be. Image of a dog looking out the window.

3 Solutions for feeling alone in leadership:

  1. Realize Wonder Woman, Superman, and the Lone Ranger are fictional characters. You have frailties. You need others.
  2. Seek a mentor or coach. You need someone in your life who doesn’t have a dog in the fight.
  3. Build relationships intentionally. It’s messy. It takes time. You are more likely to flourish.

“Positive relationships keep us happier, healthier, and help us live longer.” Harvard Gazette

5 questions to explore your relationships:

  1. Who affirms and strengthens your sense of self?
  2. Who will you call in the moment of personal crisis?
  3. Who encourages you to go for it? Try new things? Pursue your goals?
  4. Who can you call when you feel low, furious, or ecstatic (and you’ll speak honestly with them)?
  5. Who brings a smile to your face? Makes you laugh?

You never flourish alone. People count on you. Who do you count on?

How might leaders build supportive relationships?

Connect with Sally on LinkedIn.

Purchase Breaking Through here.

Sally Susman in her own words:

Still curious:

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