If it wasn’t for people . . . leaders wouldn’t feel isolated

Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s lonely at the top?”  Do you “the leader” sometimes feel that you are disconnected from those people for whom you are responsible?  Are you always getting the unvarnished truth about what is going on in your organization?  While much of the time, people in your organization would like to spend time with you and have a closer relationship with you, that rarely happens.

In the military, a unit commander must be free from personal relationships with the troops if that unit is going to be effective when it comes to sending those people into harm’s way.  This is not complete isolation, but the commander of a combat or combat support organization must maintain some separation from those for whom he or she is responsible.  This does not mean that you “the leader” do not love and appreciate everyone in the organization, but relationships need to remain professional to have the good order and disciple required in battle.

Yet every leader, CEO, business owner, or lead pastor suffers from some degree of isolation.  It just goes with the territory.  You “the leader” have your style of exercising leadership, but usually, you’ll be looked upon as someone who is just a little above the fray.  And because of this situation, you will not know everything that is going on in your organization, or at least everything that you should know, and that is not everything unless you think micro-managing is the right thing to do. I experienced this situation in every organization where I was the commander or CEO.

The leadership lesson here is, like it or not, every leader suffers some degree of isolation from those for whom he or she is responsible; sometimes it might even be called loneliness. A way to overcome this is to have within your organization a person whom you fully trust to provide a little help. Somebody who is willing to invest time in you as a person, pray with you, listen to your problems, and give you an unvarnished perspective. It is a relationship that every person in a leadership position should hope to develop though I’ve found such qualities rare. Of course, trust is critical as such a reverse mentor or counselor must not have a separate, personal agenda when it comes to the relationship with you, “the leader.” And, there must be an understanding between you and the reverse mentor that you will both keep the counsel in confidence and that you are free to accept or reject the advice, as you feel appropriate.

You, “the leader” need a confident, a counselor whom you can trust for insights and wisdom with respect to how you handle your responsibilities.  Proverbs 19:8 says, “The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”  (Prov. 19:8) But where to find that wisdom?

As mentioned, there may be just that right person in your organization that fits that request.  In one of my cases, it was an older man working part-time.  He was just the right person, he had seen a lot, and he held no alternative ambitions.  Another source might be the leadership of a close supporting organization or a professional organization.  But my first inclination has always been to go to the ONE, the one who knows you need wise counsel and support.  First to know Him personally, and then to request wisdom and wise counsel. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.”  (Eph. 1:17) “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”  (I John 5:14-15) He will never let you down.

  1. www.slate.com