It’s Lonely at the Top

lonely at the topA common topic in my newsletters is about communicating effectively as a leader. Whether it be storytelling or positioning change, communication is a critical skill for someone who wants to lead others. A few years ago I contributed to an article about the challenges of CEO’s and loneliness at the top.

A big challenge for leaders is to have open communication from others. It can be tough for people to be open and honest with executives. They want an executive to perceive them as a great team player, as someone who has great ideas or as someone who is really getting the job done. This desire to be seen in a a positive light, can make it tough to bring up issues, frustrations, and the things that aren’t working.

This difficulty stems from some things that are inherent in any organization. The first and foremost is that the executive or manager makes determinations about others’ careers, salaries, performance ratings, job assignments, etc. Basically, there is a serious power imbalance. Others include lack of executive availability, personal reaction to less than great news, and the expectations you set for what you want people to talk about with you.

To lead effectively, you need to open the door for all kinds of communication. Think about the messages you are sending about how open and honest people can be with you. Then think about what you can do to let others know you want to hear it all — the good, the bad and the ugly.

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