Sustainable leaders stay connected. Leadership can be a lonely pursuit. It's tough at the top and crowded at the bottom, as they say. Most leaders I know, in their more candid moments, will talk about the loneliness of leadership. It’s a tough job to deal with the paradox of competing stakeholders and the lack of people to connect with who have no agenda.
If we are not connected as leaders, we don't have the benefit of good counsel. We can become unbalanced in our view, if it is not checked and counted by our peers or wise advisors. Many leaders lack true relationships; they may not have people in their worlds who can talk into their challenges and opportunities, or at least give them an opportunity to reflect and talk through what they are doing. In the absence of connection, blind spots persist, personal growth is limited, and leadership becomes less effective.
Sustainable leaders have accountability built into their lives. As Jeffrey Benjamin wisely said, “accountability is the measure of a leader’s height”. Whilst I believe personal responsibility and accountability should be at the forefront of any leader’s mindset, we all need to have someone to be accountable to. Whilst we often have this in our organisations, with boards or whoever we report to, there are certain conversations that we are unable to have with leadership teams, or those in authority over us.
Building in accountability that's broader than just our corporate or organisational responsibilities, where we can have open and frank conversations in a nonjudgmental confidential environment, is critical for us to be effective leaders. This is the role of mentors, coaches and peer to peer groups. They can be formal or informal but are an essential part of our growth as leaders. I have personally found it invaluable to have groups of people whom I respect ,that I regularly spend time with, sharing life and sharing experiences.
I think there is something truly innate in us; a need for community. The antidote to the lonely leader is to stay connected. We do offer these services at Thought Patrol both in small groups and one on one, so please reach out if you'd like to know more. However, you fulfil this need for connection, never undervalue it. We all need to be connected to be told to “pull our head in” occasionally, but more often to be affirmed and encouraged. Leadership legend Zig Ziglar said, “a lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, because someone else thought they could.” Stay connected and be a sustainable leader.