Leadership isolation and loneliness – our own epidemic.

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.”
― Robert Frost, West-Running Brook

There is a great deal of research now available to illustrate the extent of this emotional state. During the course of this article we will showcase a number of extracts from some of that material and provide a host of links for your own additional review. Why? Because the author of the article understands the torment and feeling of helplessness which accompanies the separation from the world around you.

Governments worldwide have been working to address this issue as it spreads in society. This ironic problem, which has grown despite the global population being more connected than ever in our history. But as the research has shown there is a difference between isolation and loneliness. One person may have a large social media network but feel increasingly lonely.

For leaders the challenges continues to grow with the rapid onset of technology making virtual operations easier but at the same time driving teams apart. Where the communication normal has been via email and virtual meetings rather than face to face. With staff working from home or remotely and colleagues separated across countries. The comradery that we grew with is fast being reduced back to the ways prior to the beginning of the first industrial revolution. Before we built great factories and companies and people congregated in the one location.

How to Overcome Executive Isolation…

Ron Ashkenas February 02, 2017. In this HBR article Ashkenas opens with this paragraph;

“The loneliness that often comes with being a CEO may seem like a small price to pay for the rewards, recognition, and power that come with the job. As the old joke goes, “It might be lonely at the top, but the view is terrific.”

And sadly that is often the price we feel we are obliged to pay for holding that corner office with a view.

Launching my first book in 2020…

Later this year, in the last quarter of 2020, I will launch my first book.

As the cover indicates it is related to this topic of overcoming Leadership isolation, anxiety and fatigue. If you possible are thinking, this is actually three different topics and you would be right. However, each feeds the other and before you know you find yourself struggling with life and business.

In the first instance when the idea came to me to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard, I had not researched these areas. My reason was that I myself had experienced these feelings during my career and I had witnessed countless others with similar struggles. I had no idea however about the extent to which they had hold over our workplace.

Since then and much water under the bridge as the saying goes, I have a new perspective on the seriousness of this epidemic. As I mention in the book and subsequent webinar series, I’m not into looking backwards. Trying to compare whether the current state is worse or better than some time in the past doesn’t add much value to the equation as I see it. Particularly if you are one of those suffering at this moment.

Based on the collection of university research papers, books, articles, TED Talks, podcasts, videos, interviews and water cooler conversations I and my team have been able to dig up on the topic, the conclusion we’ve drawn is that this is a serious health issue affecting an alarming number of executives.

For that reason, we want to bring together a number of these articles to one common place. Our hope is that you the executive may find a convenient way to read the discussions and gain an insight to the challenges which are being confronted daily.

We trust you will enjoy and find a way to fight the battle, study the causes and overcome your dark days. By the way, in my book we look at Connectedness being one major way for turning that corner. By building a fortress of support and guidance from and with others so that you are no longer physically or mentally alone.

The remainder of this article is based on a collection of extracts from 8 different sources. In each case we will Include the title and then state the source is at the beginning of that section. Hope you enjoy.

To kick start the process…

Here are a handful of TED Talks & YouTube videos which you might enjoy on the topic:

Loneliness is literally killing us | Will Wright | TEDxBirmingham

The lethality of loneliness: John Cacioppo at TEDxDesMoines

All the lonely people | Karen Dolva | TEDxArendal

The Power of Beyond Differences: Ending Social Isolation Through Student Leadership

How We Combat Loneliness | Simon Sinek at Entreleadership 2019

Avoiding Isolation of Leadership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

How to Handle Loneliness in Leadership…

Coaching for Leaders website – this article opens with this Shakespearian verse

In Henry IV, William Shakespeare wrote:
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

An extract from this article states “While the world has mostly moved on from the wearing of crowns, the uneasiness that Shakespeare speaks of is as true today as it was for the kings and queens of yesteryear. Many leaders find themselves surprised and unsure when battling loneliness.”

Isolation – Are you lonely at the top…

TEC The Executive Connection – article dated November 30, 2018. Below is an extract from this article

“Business leaders often lament that it is ‘lonely at the top’; with few realising just how truly isolated it can be in the boardroom. But just how pervasive is this problem, what are its potential impacts and why does it need to be addressed?

Feeling distant and isolated at the top is not just a matter of people not understanding leaders’ positions and circumstances – it can lead to depression, stress and a whole host of mental and physical health problems. In order to truly feel appreciated, leaders can often benefit from outside advice that without prejudice challenge and deal with issues relevant to business.

This could be behind the prevalence of executive coaching and peer support schemes today. In its International Business Report from earlier this year, for example, Grant Thornton found that more than a third (35 per cent) of business leaders around the world said they have used a business coach at some point.

For business leaders who are struggling to cope with the lack of support and peers at the very top, seeking the assistance of an executive coach or support group can be a wise step to take.”

Finding ways to conquer the loneliness of leadership…

this extract from the PADRAIG Coaching and Consulting website

If you feel lonely or isolated in your role, you’re not alone. And if it makes you feel better about acknowledging it, several years ago the Harvard Business Review quantified the impact of feelings of isolation.

According to the HBR, their survey of CEOs showed that half of CEOs admitted feeling lonely — and of these, 61 percent expressed concerns it hindered them at work.

So enough of the WHY, let’s look at WHAT we can do…

Leader Isolation: 6 Ways to Conquer Loneliness at the Top – extract from an article on the RapidStart Leadership website

Five Ways to Conquer Leader Isolation

  • Make new companions deliberately.

Breaking out of your friend bunch doesn’t mean you are out of nowhere without peers. Search out another companion gathering – a system of leaders.

Check out your organization and consider who else is working at your level – it may be the individuals you see at the week by week meeting – that could be a decent place to start.

At the point when you make associations with others in your organization who are facing the same sorts of issues you are, you can leverage each other’s understanding and discover companionship at the same time.

It tends to be tremendously reassuring to realize you aren’t the just one grappling with leadership challenges.

  • Cultivate a mentor.

Consider individuals outside of your “chain of command” that you admire as a professional. Search them out, offer to get them some espresso.

The viewpoint of somebody effective who has been over the ground you are currently walking can give you a major lift. They can offer you ideas, heading, and a perspective you probably won’t have the option to see from your present place on the path.

Start out easy and simply ask on the off chance that you can skip ideas off them every once in a while. Be careful: in the event that you bare your spirit directly after the espresso arrives, they may unexpectedly become “unavailable” whenever you want to talk.

Keep it light, short, reveal to them you appreciate their prosperity and wanted to comprehend what their musings are on something. A great many people are flattered to be asked for advice and are happy to give it.

You can even have more than one mentor; cultivating one from outside your organization is a decent way to expand your points of view and gain greater viewpoints..

  • Form a Personal Board.

As Kristi Hedges, composing for Forbes proposes, similarly as CEOs regularly assemble teams of believed advisers to assist them with making intense choices, you can do the same thing, regardless of your present level in the organization. Pick four or five individuals you know to be knowledgeable, experienced, and dependable, and welcome them get together.

You may be amazed to find that they feel the same as you and are happy to be a part of your little gathering. It’s what Ben Franklin did when he shaped his own little Mastermind Group two or three centuries ago. The idea is similarly as valid today.

  • Make outside companions.

You ought to do this anyway. On the off chance that all you do is eat, rest, and work, you chance losing balance, wearing out and turning into a uninteresting “ramble” with nothing to add to the conversation.

There are heaps of ways to get associated – join a club, jump on a games team, volunteer at a charity, help out at chapel, start a pastime, offer the local Scouting organization some assistance, engage in an assistance organization like Rotary…

There is no limit to the ways to get associated socially with others, all it takes is somewhat initiative on your part. And as you broaden your encounters with individuals outside your workplace, you will have additionally fascinating comments.

  • Host an occasion.

As you climb, your relationship with your teammates changes, however that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with them. In fact, you should.

Regardless of whether your team is new or simply needs some renewal, organizing an extracurricular activity every so often is a great way to fabricate team attachment.

Request contribution from the team, pick something everybody can participate in, and then make it happen. Doing things together outside the workplace can develop the obligations of trust at work. Everyone wins.

References…

More Articles

Loneliness is crippling workplace productivity: Here’s The Leadership Prescription

Loneliness: The Executive Challenge No One Talks About

Loneliness: The Executive Challenge No One Talks About

Overcoming the new leadership epidemic – Isolation and loneliness

Leadership and Loneliness

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Category: Psych 4 Execs

This is a new series where we explore some of the topics surrounding Leadership psychology. The started with this topic primarily because it is a major issue in our lives today.

NEXT UP: LEADING THROUGH ANXIETY AND FEAR

Until then, stay safe and healthy. Bye for now. Wayne