If you have ever been a leader in any capacity before you will definitely agree that leadership can be very lonely. There are so many leaders out there who are so lonely and probably don’t even know what to do. Some have seen the possibility of loneliness in leadership and that is why they are also running away from leadership.
Are you a leader in your organisation? Have you gotten into the loneliness of leadership? Is it a situation of being stuck and not knowing what to do anymore? I can tell you that it does not matter how many people you have around you as a leader. There will be very lonely times in your journey as a leader.
It is also very important to say that some leaders are the ones who have gotten themselves into extreme and inexplicable loneliness. There are some leaders who think that the best way to lead is to be very firm or to be perceived as strict. They also think that the best way to achieve that is to make sure they restrict their rapport with most of the people they are leading.
You will find out that it is a very wrong impression to think that the only way to lead and to be seen as firm is to cut off or restrict communication with the people you are leading. You will just be dragging yourself into some kind of unnecessary boredom. Worse still, the people you are leading may see, from some of your reactions to them, that you are lonely and taking it out on them. They may want to help you but will not be able to summon the courage to do so.
Let’s go back to the conventional and expected loneliness of leadership. As a leader you may have gone round trying to help every other person solve their own problems but yours are there and you are still looking for the solution. While you have your own issues to deal with, you still go about making sure that others take care of their own issues.
That means you might be crying secretly even though you have a big smile when you come to the public. People see you as a saviour. A few people know your struggles and you are almost saying to yourself, ‘physician, heal thyself.’ How come you can help other people and you can help yourself.
One of the things you must admit is the fact that you can fix everything. There will be people you will be able to help and there will be people you will not be able to help.
It is because leadership can be lonely that a leader must also learn how to be a follower. In this case I am talking about following the tutelage of a mentor. It does not matter how big you have grown. So long as you are alive, it is very important for the leader to have people who mentor him. Those are the people he or she can always run to in the times of loneliness and bare it all.
I can call some of your mentors your confidants but you can also have confidants or advisers who are not necessarily in the status of being a mentor to you. When things go wrong or when you don’t seem to be clear on what to do, these are people you can talk to or ask questions. It does not mean they know it all but they can always be there to give you the listening hears that you need. They can comfort you if there is a need and just make sure you cheer up.
Let’s also be clear on the fact that you can have a very good rapport with the people you are leading and there will be no familiarity. You can keep a strong communication line with your followers and you will be happy at the end of the day. One important thing is to know where the limits are so that familiarity does not set in.
So many people may be working with you but they will not feel the burden of leadership as you do. You are the one in the position and you know what hurts the most. Interestingly, some of the people you are trying to lead will also b working against you. When that happens you will definitely feel so bad and sometimes feel like giving up.
I will say that you don’t have to be lonely all the time just because you are a leader. One thing you have to do, especially if you are still on your way to becoming a leader, is to brace up emotionally before you become a leader. When you do you still have to keep working on your emotions and make sure you are stable.
To survive the lonely times, you must also keep a healthy relationship with other leaders especially if they share similar positions or responsibilities. There is no law forbidding you to build personal relationships that can help you in personal times. As a matter of fact, if you don’t build such relationships you may not survive leadership.
While it is very true that leadership can be very lonely, how you manage it is very important and will also determine what you get at the end of the day. Keep leading but you don’t have to be alone!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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