I remember when I was in my early 20’s and moving up in an organization, my boss said, “Steve, the higher up you go in leadership the lonelier it is!” Soon after, she retired and I was promoted to her position. I had not thought deeply about what she said before but soon learned that to be true and I needed to figure out how to deal with it.
Leaders Need Coaches
A non-profit senior leader set up an appointment to meet with me. This person had just been, “dragged through the mud” and was struggling to see “which end was up.” They had tried to do everything correctly, even going the extra mile for a staff member but were painted as the bad guy. They were questioning themselves as a leader, their actions and their sanity.
Talking it through in a safe place
This leader said, “I don’t have anyone safe to talk this through with. I can’t talk to other staff nor the board. Would you listen and walk me through this situation?” During the next hour this strong leader was able to get back on her feet, understand that her actions had already proved to be the correct ones from an outside authority and know clearly that there was nothing else she could have or should have done. Unfortunately some people feel it is okay to throw mud at leaders who are doing the right thing. She went from a place of loneliness, to being ready to carry on leading with confidence to others.
Talking it through with another Leader
I look back on my own leadership path and am so thankful I had other leaders who I could speak to in confidence and they spoke back into my life. There were times when I questioned myself, “What am I not seeing or understanding?”, “What am I missing?” or “What did I mess up on?” They often would say, “Steve, you are seeing it correctly but as a leader you have to walk through this difficult situation.”
Being in leadership can feel lonely at times and it is at those times inviting a coach in to walk with you can be extremely beneficial. They are not going to do the work for you but will provide the guidance and encouragement that you need.