It’s been said that “the top” can be a lonely place. I suppose that’s true… for people who are leaders solely by position or title. But for an authentic leader it’s anything but lonely at the top.
Individuals who are leaders by title or position only are often “lonely at the top” because their lack of true leadership skills makes it very difficult for them to connect with their people. They become victims of their own “ivory tower syndrome” and are isolated from their people and the real world of what’s going on in their company or organization.
They wear their “loneliness” as a badge of honor and the price that must be paid to lead. There is really no good way to say this so I’ll just put it out here: they are poor leaders. They are so bad that I almost hate to describe them as leaders at all, but technically, even if by title or position alone they are indeed leaders.
They have no idea what they are missing. They miss the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of their people. They miss the opportunity to build future leaders. They miss the opportunity to leave a legacy and extend their leadership past their physical presence in the organization.
They miss all that and so much more. All because they buy into the Destination Myth. They believe that simply because they are now a leader they no longer have a requirement to learn or grow. They think that they no longer need to sharpen their communication skills or human relations skills.
What they fail to realize is that the moment they stop pushing themselves, the moment they begin to believe they are “set” and have nothing left to learn they begin to fail.
They may even have a strong desire to pass on what they know to others which is an outstanding leadership trait. Believing they know it all however makes it very difficult for their people to learn from them.
Authentic leaders on the other hand know that the most effective leaders and the most successful people in general learn something new everyday. They know that learning is a lifelong process and they also know that they will never know it all. They will never be “set”.
Authentic leaders know that every person on the planet knows something that they don’t and therefore they are open to learning from anyone. Authentic leaders have the courage to expose their “gaps” to their followers and to ask for help from anyone.
Authentic leaders are never lonely at the top because they bring so many people there with them. They bring their supporters and those that they support. They bring those who can help them and those who need their help. They never separate the “top” from the “bottom” and they fully realize that their position or title alone does not elevate their character above that of anyone else in the organization.
Above all, authentic leaders know that they require trust of their people to truly lead and that trust is built by being “with” the people they would lead. Without that trust there can be no real following and this much is certain: A leader without followers is indeed lonely at the top.